All About Language Instruction Educational Programs

Kate Fritz
Kate Fritz
LIEP Supervisor for PA School Districts; M.A. in Urban Education, ESL Program Specialist
A male English teacher sits beside an ESL student and helps her with an assignment.

What are Language Instruction Educational Programs?

A Language Instruction Educational Program (LIEP) is the locally designed program that a school or district uses to meet the needs of English Learners (ELs) enrolled in schools and to ultimately enable students to gain English proficiency. Typically, one school or district-specific document outlines the entire Language Instruction Educational Program and all related policies and procedures that impact ELs.

All local education agencies, whether a school or district, must have an LIEP by law. The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition details nine different types of LIEPs. States vary in their identification of allowable types of LIEPs in schools. Schools and districts must include considerations of their LIEP in all systems decision-making.

Benefits of LIEPs

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is the legal foundation for the rights of language minority students. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures that no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participating in, be denied that benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This stipulation of programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance applies to all public-school districts, because all public-school districts receive federal funding in some way.

Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA), public schools must ensure that EL students can participate meaningfully and equally in educational programs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, districts are responsible for providing meaningful access to all curricular and extracurricular programs as well as providing ELs access to all programs offered to non-ELs.

As such, individual states now set requirements for all districts to meet the demands of these laws as well as the precedent set forth by case laws in:

  • Lau v. Nichols
  • Castañeda v. Pickard
  • Plyler v. Doe.

Former U. S. President Barack Obama reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) in December 2015, as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This was previously authorized as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Under new ESSA regulations, SEAs and LEAs are still required to provide educational opportunities to ELs through the design and delivery of a theoretically-sound LIEP.

According to a policy update published by the National Association of the State Boards of Education, “…English language learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing segment of the public school population and yet are twice as likely to drop out of high school and significantly less likely to attend and complete postsecondary education. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes explicit new provisions related to ELL students and more generally offers greater flexibility that states can use to serve these students better.”

Requirements of ESSA include implementing instructional programs that incorporate English language proficiency standards, annually assessing ELs to:

  • Determine their English proficiency levels
  • Provide instructional accommodations and supports that provide ELs access to grade-level content/instruction preparing them for college/career success

Without Language Instructional Education Programs designed to meet the needs of English Learners and increase their English proficiency, ELs would not have the tools they need to be able to access the education they need to become successful or productive in the future. Reaching language proficiency in English opens doors to achievement in school and opportunities to higher education and the workforce.

My Experience Working as a LIEP Supervisor 

After earning my bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in Spanish, I began teaching in a school district that had a very high number of English Learners. I was able to earn my English as a second language (ESL) Program Specialist certification by completing five additional college courses. After eight years in the classroom teaching and earning my master’s degree in urban education with a principals’ certification, I left the classroom to become a school administrator.

I spent seven years as a school administrator before accepting a position as an LIEP Supervisor at an intermediate unit. In Pennsylvania, intermediate units work as educational service agencies to school districts in a specified local region of the state. There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania belonging to 29 intermediate units. Intermediate units also act as intermediaries between the state education department and local education agencies such as school districts.

As an LIEP Supervisor, my role is to oversee implementation of our language instruction education program. This entails supervision and evaluation of ESL teachers, coordination of ESL instruction to students, identification, assessment, and evaluation of English Learners. In addition to implementation of the Language Instruction Education Program, it is also my role to consult with school districts within our intermediate unit in regard to their LIEPs and to provide professional development to school districts at their request.

This is the part of my work that I enjoy the most. I began my career in 2006 as a teacher and I still consider myself a teacher before an administrator. Through the work of delivering professional development to teachers and school staff, I am able to advocate for English Learners’ equitable access to the quality education that they deserve.

Have a passion for ELs/ELLs or already work with them and want to advance your career? Check out our graduate education dual language programs today!

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