English Language Learners (ELL)


The Issaquah School District uses an acceleration model that provides ELL students with powerful learning experiences that stress complex, engaging activities and direct teaching of the English language. Language and skill development is accelerated, so students can meet high standards in ALL academic areas.

The Washington State English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPs) provide learning targets for teachers as they help the ELL students learn English.

More than 1,000 students receive ELL services in the Issaquah School District. These students represent 65 different cultures and language groups. The most common are Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese (2010 data).

General information/FAQ's

How do students qualify for ELL services?

Students must meet eligibility requirements to qualify for ELL services. Eligibility is determined by the Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA). There are four levels of English language development determined by the WELPA. You will receive a letter reporting the results of this test. If your student is Level 1, 2 or 3, s/he is eligible for ELL services.

  • Level 1 - Beginning/Advanced Beginning. Your student will be eligible for ELL services.
  • Level 2 - Intermediate. Your student will be eligible for ELL services.
  • Level 3 - Advanced. Your student will be eligible for ELL services.
  • Level 4 - Transitional. Your student will not be eligible for ELL services.
How often will students be re-tested on the WELPA?

All ELL students will be re-tested on the WELPA each February or March. Scores are sent home from the district office after testing scores are received from the OSPI. 

If they qualify for ELL services, what kind of help will they receive?
Students will not be removed from their classroom or change schools. They will receive services in their school.

Elementary ELL model: The elementary level uses the "Teacher Led" model. In this model students spend their day in a regular classroom. Teachers are trained in Project GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design), which gives them extra skills in working with ELL students. ELL Educational Assistants or ELL Teachers will also support the learning in the classroom by reviewing, extending or expanding the content. The ELL Assistant or ELL Teacher also works with the students, their families and the teachers.

Middle School ELL model:  In some middle schools, the ELL students are in a Support Class such as Guided Studies, and the Educational Assistant works with students in their regular content classes. Other middle schools use a content-specific approach, where the ELL Teacher teaches the students for one period each day. Class time is devoted to working on English Acquisition through the district-adopted curriculum, Milestones (Heinle). Also, ELL staff may use a new curriculum specifically designed to integrate Social Studies and Science standards with materials/strategies effective for language learners. Most middle schools also provide after-school support.

High School ELL model:  The high school programs use a certified ELL teacher to teach one or more periods a day. Part of class time is used on English Acquisition with the district adopted curriculum, Visions (Heinle) and Teacher Created Materials/Social Studies and Science books. The rest of the class time is used for supporting language learners in their content classes. Much of what the high school teacher may do each day is advocate for students with teachers, assist counselors with class placement, work with content teachers to align instruction and make curriculum accessible, and help students meet graduation requirements. Some high school programs also have an Educational Assistant to help high school ELL students with their homework.

How can I request an interpreter?

You may request an interpreter to help you communicate either over the phone or during face-to-face conferences. The interpreter can be requested by a parent or by an ISD staff member. If you are a staff member, please talk to your school secretary about the procedure. If you are a parent, please let your child's teacher know if you would like to use an interpreter, and she or he will make arrangements.


Resources for families - in both English and Spanish: Colorin' Colorado
  • Translated documents in many languages: Center for Improvement of Student Learning
    • Understanding the Public School System
    • Graduation Requirements
    • Learning Goals K-10
    • State Testing
    • ... and more ...
  • ESL classes for adults: King County Library System, Bellevue College ESL classes, and Renton Technical College adult classes
  • ELL contacts

    Report a problem The Issaquah School District provides equal opportunity in its programs, activities, and employment.