Formerly English as a Second Language (ESL), ELL is the official designation referring to a group of students for whom English is not their primary or native language. ELL students are separated into five categories, ranging from “Level 1” (almost no English proficiency) to “Level 5” (equivalent to a native English speaker). Students receive varying levels of additional support based on their numeric designation. Districts monitor even Level 5 ELL students for a period of time prior to release from ELL programs.
In Indiana, this group of students overwhelmingly, but not exclusively, refers to Latinos — 73 percent of ELL students in Indiana are native Spanish speakers. Indiana currently has a “no-barrier” policy to enrollment, meaning public schools cannot deny students admission based on immigration status or language proficiency.
Lawmakers proposed several pieces of legislation during the most recent legislative session which would have required schools to conduct an immigration status check before admitting a student. All of these bills were defeated.