Welcome to ESL Portal PA!

This portal is designed as a “one-stop” online repository of information to support Pennsylvania educators and community organizations in the creation of equitable, high quality educational programs for English learners (ELs) and their families. These resources include professional development opportunities, updated federal and state guidance, current educational research, best practice guidelines, and more.

Click the buttons below to view upcoming professional development opportunities by topic:

Assessmentbest practicesTitle IIIData


What’s New

2017-18 English as a Second Language Professional Learning Opportunities
Welcome to the 2017-18 English as a Second Language (ESL) Professional Learning calendar. This calendar lists the scheduled ESL professional learning opportunities for 2017-18 school year which includes online webinars, LMS Moodle courses and on-site events. This year’s opportunities are divided into four content categories: Assessment, English Learner Data Collections, English Learner Instruction & Best Practices, and Title III and Accountability. We hope you can participate in many of these valuable learning opportunities throughout the year to strengthen your teaching skills and increase your knowledge when working with English learners and your colleagues.

Classifying Language Instruction Educational Programs (LIEPs)
Pennsylvania Department of Education has released new guidance to assist districts in classifying their LIEPs. The new classifications will be used for data reporting of the 2017-18 school year.

State-Required English Learner Reclassification (Exit) Criteria – School Year 2016-2017
Pennsylvania Department of Education has released State-Required English Learner (EL) Reclassification Criteria to be used to make reclassification (exiting a student from active EL status to first year monitoring) decisions based on 2016-17 performance data.

Please note, the criteria outlined in this document will be used only for the 2016-17 school year (including students who will be reclassified in September, 2017).

New reclassification criteria will be published for the 2017-2018 school year and will take effect in June, 2018.

Parent’s Right to Refuse Specialized ELD Services and Programs
Under federal civil rights laws, parents have the right to refuse to have their child participate in any specialized, separate ESL program or service. To help LEAs understand this change, Pennsylvania Department of Education has developed procedural guidance and supportive resources to meet this federal requirement.

Webinar: Provisions Related to a Parent’s Right to Refuse Specialized ELD Services and Programs
Webinar was originally held February 9, 2017.
Recording l PowerPoint Slides

Pennsylvania State Documents for LEAs
• Parental Opt-Out Form (draft)
• Parental Reinstatement Form (draft)
• Opt-Out Guidance for LEAs
• Penn*Link: Parent’s Right to Decline English Language Development (ELD) Services

Federal Resources
• Dear Colleague Letter, January 7, 2017 (ED, Office for Civil Rights, and DOJ, Civil Rights Division)
• English Learner Tool Kit, Chapter 7: Tools and Resources for Serving English Learners Who Opt-Out of EL Programs (ED, Office of English Language Acquisition)

Building Support for English Language Learners: Strategies for Creating a School Culture of Academic Success
This new research brief released by Center for Schools and Communities with funding provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, identifies key strategies that principals and other educational leaders can use to foster collaboration among ESL specialists and content/classroom teachers that support the academic achievement of English learners. Co-authors, Karin Sprow Forté, D.Ed., and Denise G. Meister, Ph.D highlight school based strategies which include: providing dedicated time for collaboration, creating a culture and context for collaboration, and using professional learning to foster collaboration. Also recommendations that build positive school culture and environment, along with common pitfalls and limitations are detailed.

View the recorded webinar held on November 19, 2015 with the brief’s researchers discussing their research findings and hear a local perspective offered by Sally Rifugiato, Principal, Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5 School and Jonathan Covel, ESL Director, Pittsburgh Public schools.


Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Mission for the Education of English Language Learners

Provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of education which includes the provision of quality, culturally-responsive and equitable educational programs for English language learners and assurance of their appropriate participation in all aspects of the educational system. The Department ensures that its programs will address the needs and rights of English language learners in all its initiatives throughout the entire process of planning and implementation.

Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Vision for the Education of English Language Learners

The Department promotes the recognition of these students and their parents as cultural and linguistic assets to the Commonwealth’s global initiatives. The Department is committed to using its Standards Aligned System to ensure that English language learners receive core curriculum instruction and achieve high levels of academic success.