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Frequently Asked Questions

​​Frequently Asked Questions

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What does ESOL stand for?

ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Why does the ESOL program exist?

The program exists to support students who are learning English in addition to another language at home. The federal government identifies these students as English Learners (ELs), but they may also be called English as a Second Language (ESL) students, English Language Learners (ELLs), Limited English Proficient (LEP), or emergent bilingual students.

In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act that prohibited discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, and gender. In 1974, the Supreme Court interpreted the Act in Lau v. Nichols to mean that public schools must screen children who were born abroad or whose parents speak another language to find if they need support in English, then place them in programs to build their English proficiency. In 2015, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)--also referred to as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)--required districts to assess the effectiveness of these programs each year. For these reasons, the International Welcome Center screens all ELs entering Albemarle County schools for their English proficiency and provides language support as needed.

How does the International & ESOL Welcome Center identify students who need support in learning English as an additional language?

As required by federal regulations, all schools provide a home language survey to families when they register for school. Any student who speaks a language other than--or in addition to--English, or who was born in another country may be assessed using the World-class Instructional Design and Assessment WIDA Screener or W-APT. Both tests are approved by the state of Virginia to evaluate students' English proficiency. Students qualify for supplemental ESOL services based on their performance on this assessment.

What type of ESOL support do ELs receive?

The ESOL program offers tiered support depending on the English proficiency and grade level of the student. Students may be pulled from their other classes to receive small-group instruction, and/or be in mainstream classes with a collaborating ESOL teacher who provides supplemental support to modify instruction for emergent bilingual students. Students with fluent English proficiency are monitored for four years after attaining fluency and may be provided additional instructional support if needed. The ESOL program offers before- and after-school tutoring, and extracurricular activities such as fieldtrips and family nights. For more details, please visit the Instructional Models page of our website.

Can parents opt out of ESOL support?

Yes. Parents should call 434-296-6517 to setup a meeting and complete a waiver form from ESOL support. However, due to state and federal regulations, even students with waivers must continue to participate in the annual English language proficiency assessment.

How do schools determine when a child no longer needs ESOL support?

Each year, ESOL teachers and staff administer the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 English language proficiency exam to all active ELs. Following state guidelines, the program determines that students no longer require ESOL support when they earn an overall composite score of 4.4 or higher on the highest tier of this exam.

What are the different English language proficiency levels?

The WIDA English Language Proficiency (ELP) Levels are as follows: 1) Entering, 2) Beginning, 3) Developing, 4) Expanding, 5) Bridging, and 6) Reaching. 

How can families support ELs' learning at home?

​Families play a vital role in students' education. Parents/guardians should meet with their children's teachers to discuss academic progress, create a quiet environment in the home for study, ask students about their schoolwork, ensure that students are completing their homework, create schedules and routines that include healthful eating, exercise, and at least eight hours of sleep per night. Most importantly, families should collaborate with their schools to improve education. Parents/guardians can call their children's schools or the International & ESOL Welcome Center at 434-296-6517 to learn about educational partnership opportunities.

Can children from other countries move in with friends or family members in order to attend school in Albemarle County?

No. Virginia State law prohibits student from moving in with a friend or family member for the primary purpose of attending school in a district other than the one in which the parents or legal guardians are residing. Parents in other countries who would like their children to attend Albemarle County Public Schools should do so through an international exchange program.

What study abroad opportunities exist in Albemarle County Public Schools?

Parents must register their children with exchange organizations that are designated agencies registered by the Department of State for the issuance of J-1 visa applications and approved by the Council on Standards for International Education Travel.  Exchange organizations must​ submit applications to the International & ESOL Welcome Center by July 1st in order for students to start school any time in the following academic year in August.

What do families need to know about registering their children for school?

Please visit the Student Registration webpage for registration steps and a list of the required documents families will need to provide in order to enroll students for Albemarle County Public Schools.  


International & ESOL Welcome Center / Department of Student Learning​
434-296-6517​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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