Multilingual Education

Welcome to the Acton-Boxborough Multilingual Education (MLE) Program!

The ABRSD  Multilingual Education (MLE) Program provides educational programming for multilingual students with the goal of developing English language proficiency while learning content-area knowledge. We place high value on our students, their families, and their language and cultural backgrounds.

Who are our Multilingual Learners (MLs)?

Multilingual, or English learners, are vital members of our school community. We are proud that over 21% of our students first learn a language other than English and bring unique perspectives and different cultural lenses to learning in our schools. We welcome multilingual learners at any grade, age, and proficiency level and provide them support that is matched to their level of development.  Multilingual learners become fluent in English over time and serve as models to others who would like to become multilingual through our world language program. 

  • Elementary School (Grades K-6). When parents register their child, they can rank their preference for each of our six elementary schools. Placement is based on parent choice and the availability of seats at a particular grade level.  All six of our elementary schools have a Sheltered English Immersion program for multilingual learners of all proficiency levels. 
  • Junior High School (Grades 7-8). When parents register their student for junior high school, the junior high school counseling team will help with this process. Each student is placed on a team at their grade level and provided services in a separate setting and in general education classes.
  • High School (Grades 9-12). When parents register their student for high school, they will most likely need to take a few placement exams to determine the most appropriate classes for them to take. The high school counseling team will help with this process. Each student is placed at their grade level and provided services in a separate setting and in general education classes.


Our MLE staff will assess the language acquisition skills of multilingual students who are eligible based on their responses to the Home Language Survey.  We assess their current English language proficiency using the WIDA Screener, the WIDA K Screener, or the WIDA MODEL. The placement in level and type of English Learner services are determined by the initial assessments. They are administered by an English language educator and will include:

      proficiency tests in listening, speaking, reading, and writing;

      content knowledge and skills diagnosis;

      records of previous schooling if available through previous school, refugee camp, consulate, or orphanage; and,

      information from a parent/guardian meetings or phone interviews.

Assessments Administered in Initial Identification for Multilingual Education

  • Pre-IPT - Preschool. This screener provides diagnostic reports on a child's language skills.
  • WIDA Measure of Developing English Language (MODEL) - Grades K-12. This assessment is a group of English language proficiency assessments that can be administered at any time during the school year. Each test assesses the four language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Scores correlate with and can be used to predict student performance on ACCESS.
  • WIDA Screener Online - Grades 1.5-12. This screener is used for initial identification of English language proficiency and assigned an EL level for academic support. For students entering ABRSD during the second half of kindergarten or the first half of the first-grade year, the listening, speaking, reading and writing portions of the test are all administered.
  • Paper WIDA Screener - Grades 1-12. The paper version of English language proficiency testing is used in extenuating circumstances when the online testing is not appropriate.

Our students are also assessed throughout the year to determine growth and progress in reading, writing, speaking and listening in academic and language growth of the State Curriculum Frameworks through the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) (once a year, Grades 3-8, 10) and the World International Design Assessment (WIDA) standards for academic language proficiency through the ACCESS test (once a year, Grades K-12).

Our Staff

Our MLE staff are highly qualified and licensed in content areas and English Language Development (ESL/ELD), while our general education faculty is trained in sheltered English instruction (SEI) for multilingual learners. Every ABRSD staff member who provides instruction in English language acquisition is minimally licensed in ESL, and many hold additional teacher licensures.

Our English Language Program
Our PK-12 English Language Development program is a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) program. 

Focus on Literacy and Language

Our English Language Education Department focuses on providing students opportunities for meaningful access to content knowledge, vocabulary, and the understanding of conceptual themes in each of the content areas.  Our students are encouraged to speak, listen, read and write in English in safe and supportive environments that facilitate confidence across all language domains. Multilingual learners study the same grade level curriculum as fluent English speakers through language-rich experiences. Students in our program increase their proficiency in writing and speaking by using phrases, mastering vocabulary, using authentic phonetic qualities when they speak, and thinking critically about what they hear and read.

Instructional materials for ML instruction are comparable to those provided to all other students and teachers. All textbooks and materials adopted by the district are analyzed through a cultural lens.  Our English educators are included in the teams to evaluate materials for English learners.

Regardless of the setting for instruction (pull-out, push-in, co-teaching, etc.) ABRSD provides multilingual learners with subject matter content and ESL instruction aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the WIDA ELD Standards. The ESL curriculum addresses the English language needs of our multilingual learners at all levels and promotes the acceleration of language acquisition. Instructional time for English Learners is based on recommendations that are aligned with proficiency assessment scores of ACCESS.


Interpreters and Translations

We provide oral interpretation and written translation services to ensure that families are able to access information about their child’s school program in an accessible language. When a family registers for school here, they answer a Home Language Survey to share information about their child’s first exposure to and experiences with language(s) other than English. When parents indicate they need an interpreter, translated materials, or both, we note these in our student information system. This way, teachers know which families need these language supports to engage with their child’s teachers and school staff.

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