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Multilingual Learners Program

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Multilingual Learners Program

Multilingual Learner Program Coordinator

Regina McDonald -

What is the Multilingual Learner Program?

Common acronyms:

  • ML = Multilingual Learners
  • MLP = Multilingual Learner Program
  • formerly ESOL = English Speakers of Other Languages
  • formerly ELL = English Language Learners

Kershaw County School District's ML Program is designed to provide equal educational opportunities to students who have a primary or home language other than English and who are considered to be Multilingual Learners (MLs). The primary focus of the program is to provide an English-rich learning environment so those students will become proficient in English as soon as possible.  The ML program addresses listening, speaking, reading, writing, content vocabulary, cultural awareness, and study skills through clearly articulated objectives.  Instruction is delivered by ML specialists who are experts in second language acquisition and content knowledge.

How are ML students identified?

Upon enrollment, a home language survey is to be completed by the student, parent, or guardian to determine if there is an influence of a language other than English is in the home.  If any response on the survey indicates the use of a language other than English by the student or an individual in the home, then a state-approved language assessment/screener will be conducted by the ML specialist to determine language dominance and proficiency levels.

The presence of a language other than English does NOT automatically signify that the student is not a competent and proficient speaker of English.  Some students may actually prove to be bilingual after consultation with the parents/guardians while others might have a parent/guardian who speaks another language while the student speaks only English.  It is important to use the Home Language Survey as a springboard for further investigation with the student, parents, and/or guardians of anyone who has an answer other than English on the survey even before an English placement test is administered. 

WIDA Assessment Screener

The school system is required by law to identify and screen students who may qualify for the ML program, thus parent/guardian, permission is not needed to screen a student.  If a student qualifies, the parent/guardian is notified and services are begun.  Parents/guardians are not required to respond affirmatively, or say "yes", to the notification in order for the student to participate in the English Language instructional program.  All ML students are required to be assessed annually for English proficiency using the ACCESS for ELLS until they have attained Exited Status determined by the South Carolina state guidelines.

ML Testing and Exiting

All students served in an ML program shall be administered a state-approved language proficiency assessment, ACCESS for ELLs, to determine readiness to exit, as well as to measure progress in learning English. These scores will be kept on file in the student’s permanent record to document eligibility and provide data for possible future requests regarding program accountability.


  • All students in grades K-12 who are determined to be Multilingual Learners (formerly known as English Language Learners)- based upon the completion of a Home Language Survey and the initial assessment of their English proficiency - must take ACCESS for ELLs® each spring. This includes those students whose parents have waived (said "no" to) direct ESOL services. Students must continue to take ACCESS until they have scored “Fully English Proficient.”

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs

  • Alternate ACCESS for ELLs® is an assessment of English language proficiency for students in grades 1 through 12 who are classified as English language learners (ELLs) and have significant cognitive disabilities that prevent their meaningful participation in the ACCESS for ELLs® assessment. The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs® consists of items that are less complex than items in the ACCESS for ELLs® assessment. The assessment is based on Alternate English language proficiency levels in four English language proficiency areas: Social and Instructional Language, language of English Language Arts, language of Mathematics, and language of Science. Like the ACCESS for ELLs®, the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs® is divided into four language domains (speaking, listening, reading and writing).
  • Grades 1 through 12 (Students with significant cognitive disabilities in kindergarten should take the kindergarten ACCESS for ELLs®.)

Kershaw County School District follows state guidelines in exiting students from the ML program. Using the ACCESS for ELLs assessment, students are evaluated at the end of the year to determine progress and placement in the ML program for the following year. This includes those students whose parents have waived (said "no" to) direct ML services. Students must continue to take ACCESS until they have scored “Fully English Proficient.”

Students who exit the ML program will be monitored for a period of four years, per federal guidelines. Services may be reinstated if academic difficulties arise. In determining whether a student’s lack of success in a core subject is due to previous ML status, factors such as attendance, teacher observation, and standardized test scores are considered. If it is determined that a student is in need of additional ML services, appropriate changes will be made in the student’s program.

A Federal grant, Title III Part A, is responsible for the oversight of the language instruction of limited-English proficient, Multilingual Learners, and immigrant students. This is accomplished by: administering grant programs that help children develop proficiency in English and achieve high content standards; recommending policies and promoting best practices for meeting the needs of English language learners; strengthening collaboration and coordination among federal, state, and local programs serving Multilingual Learnes; and monitoring funded programs and providing technical assistance that addresses outcomes and accountability.

If you have questions about the ML program in Kershaw County, please contact the Coordinator for MLP, Regina McDonald at or call 803-432-8416.

South Carolina Department of Education Title III Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find resources to help me work with Multilingual Language Learners?

Parent Involvement

Teacher Resources

More information is available on the SC Department of Education website 

How can I support my ML student at home and/or school?

Tips for Supporting Learning at School and at Home

  • Ensure that the student attends school daily, completes homework, and participates fully in classes.
  • Encourage the student to participate in extra-curricular activities such as after-school clubs, sports, band, etc.
  • Ask for other resources available from ML teachers, bilingual community liaisons, social workers, and counselors.
  • Be aware of standardized testing dates and ensure that the student arrives at school rested and on time.
  • Attend parent/teacher conferences, school events, and activities.
  • Learn about high school graduation requirements and opportunities for education after high school.
  • Find a tutor if necessary. If parents cannot directly help with homework, encourage them to locate a tutor to help their children and answer any questions.
  • Read bilingual books together. Bilingual books are a great way for ML students and their parents and family to enjoy books together.
  • Promote communication in your home language and/or English by discussing school, community, world events, friendships, challenges, stress, goals, etc.