Program Background

Bilingual Education Mandate

Programs of Bilingual Education are required by New Jersey State statue whenever there are 20 or more English Language Learners from the same language background enrolled in a school district.

A school district that has 20 or more pupils from the same language background, regardless of grade level or school building, may request a waiver from the requirement for a full-time bilingual program from the New Jersey Department of Education if factors such as age, distance, or other concerns would make such a program impractical. This waiver must be requested each year and approved by the Department of Education.

The 1996 parental consent amendment to the bilingual education law states that parents of English Language Learners have the right to decline bilingual education program services. Prior to this amendment, parents could challenge a district’s decision to enroll their child in a bilingual education program, but could not deny services without following an appeals process. This amendment applies to parents of all students eligible to be served by part-time and fill-time bilingual/ESL programs, ESL-only programs, or English Language Services (ELS) programs.

Bilingual Program Definitions

Bilingual Education is defined in the law as a full time program of instruction in all those courses or subjects which a child is required by law or rule to receive, given in the native language of the English Language Learners enrolled in the program and also in English.

A bilingual program must offer instruction in aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing of the native language of the children. It also provides instruction about the history and culture of the country, territory, or geographic area which is the native land of parents of the children enrolled in the program.

In addition to the native language component, instruction of aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing in English is required. Furthermore, this English component must prepare English Language Learners to acquire sufficient English skills and content knowledge to meet both the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards as well as the WIDA Standards.

Instead of a standard bilingual education program, a district may provide a bilingual part-time program alternative. In such a program, students are assigned to mainstream English classes, but are scheduled for daily developmental reading and mathematics instruction with a certified bilingual teacher.

ESL Program Definitions

Independent of a bilingual program, a district may provide a program of ESL services whenever 10 or more English Language Learners are enrolled. Additionally, whenever one or more, but fewer than 10, English Language Learners are enrolled, the district board of education must provide services to improve the English language proficiency of these students.

A standard English as a Second Language program provides a daily developmental English language instruction of up to two periods of instruction based on student needs. This program must address aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing in English using second language teaching techniques and incorporates the cultural aspects of the students’ experiences in their ESL instruction. The ESL curriculum shall be cross-referenced to the district’s bilingual education and content area curricula to ensure that ESL instruction is correlated to all the content areas being taught.

A high-intensity ESL program provides an alternative in which English Language Learners receive two of more class periods a day of ESL instruction. One period is the standard ESL class and the other period is a tutorial or ESL reading class.