Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

October 2003


Published in Claiming Opportunities: A Handbook for Improving Education for English Language Learners Through Comprehensive School Reform. Copyright © 2003 Brown University. Used by permission.


For the last decade, the national comprehensive school reform movement has been a focus of efforts to make public education accessible and effective for all students. Comprehensive reform strives to improve schooling for all children through integrated, well-aligned, school- wide changes in instruction, assessment, curriculum, classroom management, school governance, professional development, technical assistance, and community participation. As a sign of its continuing support for comprehensive school reform, Congress formally incorporated the Comprehensive School Reform program (CSR) into the Elementary and Secondary Act (No Child Left Behind, or NCLB) of 2001.

The last decade has also seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of students not fully proficient in English who are enrolled in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. These students are alternatively referred to as limited English proficient (LEP) or, more recently, English language learners (ELLs). While the general school-age population in the U.S. is only 12% greater than it was in 1991, there has been an increase of 105% in the number of students who are classified as limited English proficient (Kindler, 2002). It is estimated that during the 2000-2001 school year almost 10% of the total public school population was classified as LEP (Kindler, 2002). This figure does not include students who have not been formally identified as English language learners or students who may have met minimal English proficiency criteria and been reclassified but still require language support to meet grade-level academic standards.