Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education


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Archived FedPro Message

For more information about the programs discussed below,

please contact the Federal Grants Management Section (573) 751-3468.


November 13, 2008


TO:                 School Administrators

                        ELL Coordinators

FROM:            Yaya Badji, Supervisor

                        Federal Discretionary Grants

SUBJECT:     English Language Learners (ELL) retention - Graduation


There have been several inquiries from school district personnel related to ELL retention and graduation requirements. I would like to confirm that ELLs cannot be retained solely because of English language barriers.  Grades represent what the student understands about the subject matter, after appropriate modifications and interventions have been documented, not the level of English proficiency.

Page 7 of the current Graduation Handbook states the following:  “Transfer students from another state, country, or a home school may, by local policy, be graduated upon successful completion of an individualized program of studies which school officials, parents and students agree will prepare the students for post-high school goals, even though the program of studies may not include 24 units of credit as defined in Missouri.  Seniors transferring from other states or countries may be graduated without meeting the requirement of Section 170.011, RSMo.” (U.S. and Missouri Constitutions and American History and Government).

Page 65 of the Administrative Manual, Consolidated Federal Programs, indicates the following: “There are no restrictions on how many ESOL classes a school may accept for credit towards graduation.  Students completing ‘sheltered ESOL’ content classes should receive content credit.  ESOL classes should qualify for communications arts credit.  Mainstream classes may reflect LEP modifications (for example, ESOL American History or ESOL Chemistry).”

Schools must follow local guidelines or policies. Pro-active steps to involve parents and to modify/adapt the curriculum to meet the ELLs’ needs require early dedication of the involved school personnel. The graduation handbook adds the following: “Local boards of education must adopt and disseminate written policies concerning graduation. The policies must clearly set forth all requirements and all allowable variations.” 

If you have more questions concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me by phone at 573-522-1567 or at the address given below.

References:   pages 14, 24, and 27: Educating Linguistically Diverse Students handbook

Page 7:                        Graduation Handbook (DESE 3341-53 1/07)

Page 65:                      Administrative Manual, Consolidated Federal Programs


If you have questions or concerns, please call:

Yaya Badji, Supervisor
Federal Discretionary Grants
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
PO Box 480, 205 Jefferson Street
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Telephone: 573-522-1567
Toll Free: 1-877-435-7537
Fax: 573-526-6698


Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Division of School Improvement - Federal Grants Management
Email: webreplyfgm@dese.mo.gov
Phone: 573-751-3468 Fax: 573-526-6698

Revised: October 01, 2003

(Non-Discrimination Statement)

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