Understanding LTELLs

Long-term English Language Learner Definition

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the New Nevada Plan defines Long-Term English Learners as an English learner who has not achieved English language proficiency within six years of initial classification (72 Fed. Reg. 3432, 2007). As of October 1, 2017, in Clark County, we have almost 16,000 long-term English language learners in grades 6-12.

Characteristics of LTELLs

U.S. Born

Children born in the United States.


Students who speak one language at home and English at school; or spend most of their time in the United States and vacation or live another part of the year in another country.

May speak colloquial English

English language learners who speak social English well, but have not yet learned academic English; English language learners who have learned English idioms and phrases; these students are not native English speakers but sound like English speakers.

LTELLs may demonstrate any of the following:

  • Lack progress toward English proficiency
  • Struggle in content areas that require academic literacy
  • Struggle with motivation, perseverance, confidence, and life and career skills
  • Exhibit strong oral language skills, but less developed academic language skills
  • At-risk of not graduating from high school

LTELL References

Long Term English Learners: New Directions for Policy, Programs, and Practice

Are you concerned about English learners who have been in your schools for many years and still are not English proficient? Do you wonder how to address the needs of these long-term English learners? Laurie Olsen, Executive Board Member of Californians Together, discusses the results of recently released research on long-term English learners (LTELs) using data from 40 school districts and pilot efforts in dozens of schools.

Supporting Long Term English Learner Students in Mastering Academic English: A Framework for Success

Some English learner (EL) students take longer to achieve sufficient English proficiency to be reclassified as a fluent English speaker, or may never achieve reclassification. These long-term English learner students (LTELs) often lag behind their peers in academic achievement and college- and career-readiness.In this webinar, hosted by the REL West English Learner Alliance, two EL education experts share promising strategies and practices to support LTEL students – and all EL students – in English writing and academic literacy.

A CUNY-NYSIEB Framework for the Education of ‘Long-Term English Learners’: 6-12 Grades

This detailed guide includes the educational and literacy development of emergent bilingual students who are labeled “Long-Term English Learners” (LTELs). Students labeled LTELs are found in middle and high schools in Grades 6-12. In New York City, for example, they currently comprise about 13% of all ‘ELLs’ in the city, and in some schools they make up a quarter to a half of the emergent bilinguals in a grade.

Long-Term ELLs

Students who have been in English language learner (ELL) programs for the majority of their schooling are considered long-term ELLs.  Learn more about some of the programs trying to address their needs and the reasons why they are struggling.