Teaching Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) Students -- (LEP)

BCLAD Certificates

We recently received several inquiries about whether there are new credential requirements for teaching limited-English-proficient (LEP) students since the voters passed Proposition 227, the Bilingual Initiative in November 1998. Below is an answer to the question and an update on the State Board of Education's Proposition 227 guidelines.

Q: Is it true that all teachers who hold a "life credential" now need the supplementary bilingual cross-cultural language and academic development (BCLAD) certificate?

A: No. It is a false rumor that all life credential teachers now need the BCLAD, according to Bob Carlson a representative of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. There have been no changes in the credentialing regulations since Proposition 227 passed.

A teacher who is assigned to a class that is not designated as a class for LEP students, which may or may not include some LEP students, is only required to hold the credential that authorizes the basic instruction for the class, not a document for LEP service.

The BCLAD is only required for a teacher of a bilingual class who is providing English as a second language (ESL), teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), and the content instruction is delivered in the student's primary language.

A cross-cultural language and academic development certificate (CLAD) is required for an immersion ESL class where the content instruction is delivered in English.

For more information, Mr. Carlson can be reached (916) 327-8663.

State Board Proposition 227 Guidelines

The State Board of Education adopted emergency regulations in July 1998 (See Vol. 5 CELR, p. 6). Those rules were made permanent with few minor changes recently. The regulations do not define what percentage of instruction should be in English. Districts have interpreted "nearly all in English" in various ways. San Jose Unified offers immersion classes that are 70 percent in English, 30 in Spanish. Gilroy Unified School District offers instruction that is 60 percent in English, 40 percent in Spanish. The Board gave districts as much flexibility and local control as possible. Student may be kept in special immersion classes for a second year if they are not ready to move into a mainstream class. The regulations also allow districts to provide students with additional language support once they make the transition into regular classes.

Bilingual Waivers

In addition, the Proposition permits parents to request a waiver for a bilingual class after a mandatory 30-day period in an English immersion class. Individual schools in which 20 pupils or more of a given grade level request a waiver are required to offer a bilingual class or some other educationally approved alternative program; or they must allow the pupils to transfer to a public school in which such a class is offered. (Educ. Code §§ 310 & 311.)

Some school attorneys have interpreted this to mean that it is not mandatory for a District to offer a bilingual class even if the parents request a waiver from regular education, if it not one of the alternative programs offered by the school district. Education Code section 310 provides that children may be transferred to classes where they are taught "through bilingual education techniques or other generally recognized educational methodologies permitted by law." In addition to a bilingual class, an alternative program could include an ESL pull-out, an independent learning plan, or mainstreaming according to Celia Ruiz, a school law attorney who is an expert in bilingual issues. Long Beach Unified and Orange Unified are not offering any bilingual classes to parents who request waivers. This is the subject of one of several pending lawsuits over the interpretation of Proposition 227, and we will keep you informed of any new developments.


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