According to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, the United States is experiencing an increase in the number of English language learners (ELL) served in the K-12 educational system. This includes Ohio as well—the Buckeye State schools are serving an ELL population that has nearly doubled since 1999. The chart below shows the increasing trend in ELL students in public schools—district and charter—from 1999 to 2012.

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Education,

As the ELL student population grows in Ohio and the rest of the country, charter schools will inevitably enroll an increasing number of these students, meaning that they’ll have to develop the infrastructure to work with these youngsters. To address charter schools’ needs, The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) has released Serving English Language Learners: A Toolkit for Public Charter Schools. The report provides charter schools with guidance for developing a strong ELL program. The comprehensive report provides an overview of legal requirements, admission strategies, program options, teacher qualifications, and evaluations metrics. In addition, the report also profiles charter schools with exceptional ELL programs in five states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Charter administrators with low ELL enrollment today may be inclined to disregard the findings of this report—especially the profiles of charters with high-densities of ELL students. But they ignore at their own peril. With a steadily growing ELL population, Ohio charter school leaders must stand ready and willing to adopt strong policies and programs for the Buckeye State’s ELL students.

SOURCE: Sunil Mansukhani and Francella Chinchilla, Serving English Language Learners: A Toolkit for Public Charter Schools, (Washington, D.C: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, April 2013)

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