English Language Learners (ELL) Program

  • Mission Statement:

    English/Multilingual learners will meet state standards and develop English language proficiency in an environment where language and cultural assets are recognized as valuable resources to learning. 


    To develop English/Multilingual learner’s proficiency in English so he/she can participate more fully in the classroom academic setting.

    Translation and Interpretation Services:

    The Mercer Island School District provides limited English proficient parents with information in their own language so that they can make informed decisions about their children's education. This includes providing interpretation and translation services for vital meetings and communications. If you need assistance, please email EL Coordinators Kristin Kim or Roxane Chan.

    Eligibility for English Language Development Services

    1. Information from the Home Language Survey (HLS)  is used to determine if testing is necessary (applying to both foreign-born and U.S.-born). 
    • What language did your child first learn to speak? (#2 question)
    • What language does your child use the most at home? (#3 question)
    2. WIDA Screener* will be administered by the ELD staff either before starting school or within 10 days of attendance. This assessment covers listening, speaking, reading, and writing domains.
     *Starting in the 2021-22 school year, WIDA Screener is administered.
    3. Eligibility for ELD Services -  based on WIDA Screener overall level and each domain level 

    4. ELD Services Participation

    • Eligible K-5th students attend their neighborhood schools. They spend all or most of the day in their classrooms. They may receive pull-out or push-in support during the school day as needed.
    • Eligible 6th-12th students take only one period of ELD support class. They spend 5-6 periods in regular classes.

    5. All eligible students will take the WIDA ACCESS (Summative Test) each spring to measure their progress and to determine future eligibility.

    • Those students who meet exit criteria will not qualify for ELD services in the new school year.
    • Those students who do not meet exit criteria will continue receiving ELD services in the new school year.

    Benefits of ELD Services: 

    1. The ELD staff knows each student well. They act as the student’s advocate, monitoring progress and helping in communication with teachers to provide appropriate accommodations in-class assignments and tests.

    2. English/Multilingual learners can receive additional accommodations during state testing (Smarter Balanced assessments or SBAC) such as text-to-text speech, selected word translation, and/or administration by ELL staff in a small group setting.
     *Those students who have been in U.S. schools for less than a year can opt out of taking the English language arts section of the SBAC.

    3. Students in 6-12 grades have the Pass/No Grade option in more than one class.