• English Language Learners

    As a school system, we value diversity and welcome students whose native languages are other than English.

    Our English Language Learners (ELL) program provides services to students whose primary language is not English and who are not yet proficient in English. The program provides support at each school, with services focused on children's English language acquisition, literacy development, and academic achievement. 

    English Immersion Model

    Massachusetts state law mandates that all classes must be taught in English. In the immersion model, teachers shelter their instruction to meet the needs of English Language Learners.  In all grades, ELLs are placed in their grade-appropriate class. However, depending on their language needs, they will receive in or out of class English language development by an ELL teacher.

    ELL students participate in the ELL program to strengthen academic vocabulary across the content areas, access or build background knowledge, read for comprehension, and write for different purposes. This "language-in-content" approach is essential to the academic program of each student, regardless of his/her English proficiency or amount of time in the U.S. since ELL students are required to participate in and pass state content tests along with the native English peers.

    The ELL program is not part of special education; however, ELL students and former ELL students have the right to special education services, when appropriate. Before referring an ELL for special education testing, all regular education means, including the ELL program and reading and math general education interventions, should be used to support language, literacy, and other gaps in performance. At the school level, attention should be paid to:


    • Informing and involving parents using their first language, when appropriate;
    • Testing ELL students using first language and culturally unbiased test instruments and procedures, when appropriate;
    • Providing culturally aligned instruction similar to those principles espoused in the current "sheltered English immersion" models required by the MA Department of Education for any classroom with even one ELL student.


    ELL and "Sheltered English Immersion"

    "Sheltering" English is a means of modifying curriculum, instructional strategies, assessment, and materials for all levels of English learners in the general education classroom. In MA, all classroom teachers and other professional staff are required by the MA Department of Education to complete courses that are aligned to the RETELL initiative by July of 2016 in order to meet licensure requirements.


    New Student Registration

    The family of every registering student is given a Home Language Survey to complete.  The principal must notify the Director of Student Services and the ELL Teacher of any student whose first language is other than English. This student’s reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in English will be assessed using the WIDA APT or WIDA Model. A team of professionals, chaired by the guidance counselor, and referred to as the "Language Assessment TEAM" or "LAT" will determine whether the student is eligible for English Language Services.


    The Norwell Public Schools will conduct all communication to a family whose first language is other than English in the primary language of the home. Additionally, Norwell Public Schools provides for oral translations of all parent/student/teacher meetings (including Special Education Team Meetings) for individuals who may require it. Norwell Public Schools has standing agreements with a number of interpreters for this purpose. If a student or parent requires oral translations in their native language, the Special Education Building Coordinator and/or the Case Manager should notify the Director for Student Services within 24 hours so arrangements can be made to secure native language translation services. This oral translation is then documented in writing in the student record.

    Communications with parents are in clear and commonly understood words and are in both English and the primary language of the home if such primary language is other than English. Any interpreter used in fulfilling these requirements is fluent in the primary language of the home and familiar with special education procedures, programs, and services. If the parents or the student are unable to read in any language or are blind or deaf, communications required by these regulations are made orally in English with the use of a foreign language interpreter, in Braille, in sign language, via TTY, or in writing, whichever is appropriate, and all such communications are documented.

    If the district provides notices orally or in some other mode of communication that is not written language, the district keeps written documentation (a) that it has provided such notice in an alternate manner, (b) of the content of the notice and (c) of the steps taken to ensure that the parent understands the content of the notice.


    English Language Learners District Contact:


    Suzan Theodorou

    Director of Student Services

    Norwell Public Schools

    322 Main Street

    Norwell, MA 02061

    Phone:  781-659-8800

    Fax:  781-659-8805