ESL/LEP Module
SUNY Cortland

Definitions of LEP

First, after doing this much of the module, how would you define LEP?  Do you know any LEP students?  Are you LEP?

Most states have a statewide definition of limited English proficiency. Many states use the definition of limited English proficiency (or slightly modified versions) found in Title VII of the Improving Americaís Schools Act of 1994 (IASA) or have adopted the definition (or slightly modified versions) recommended by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Thus, for many states (but not New York), an LEP student is defined as:

A student whose native language is not English and whose difficulty in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English is an obstacle to successful learning in a classroom where English is the only language of instruction.

IASA definition:
An individual who (1) was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language
other than English and comes from an environment where a language other than English is domi-nant; or (2) is a Native American or Alaska Native or who is a native resident of the outlying areas and comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on such individualís level of English language proficiency; or (3) is migratory and whose native language is other than English and comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and has sufficient difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language and whose difficulties may deny such individual the opportunity to learn successfully in classrooms where the language of instruction is English or to participate fully in our society.

CCSSO definition:
A limited English proficient (LEP) student has a language back-ground other than English, and his or her proficiency in English is such that the probability of the studentís academic success in an English-only classroom is below that of an academically successful peer with an English language background.

NY LEP Student Definition and Identification

In New York, pupils with limited English proficiency are those pupils who by reason of foreign birth or ancestry, speak a language other than English, and for the 1990-91 school year or thereafter, score at or below the 40th percentile, or its equivalent, as determined by the Commissioner, on an English language assessment instrument approved by the Commissioner.

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Jean W. LeLoup
Modern Languages Department
Copyright © 2000, 2014 Jean W. LeLoup; technical modifications Bob Ponterio