Home Language Surveys (HLS) are widely used by states as an initial screening tool to determine whether students should receive English language services. Typically, parents or guardians are asked to complete the HLS when enrolling a student in school. The authors collected surveys from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and then completed them as if they were the parent/guardian of six use-case students. The guiding research questions were (1) How do HLS vary from state to state, if at all? (2) What kinds of questions do HLS ask? (2) How well do HLS from across the 50 states and the District of Columbia identify six fictitious students for further ESL screening? The results of this experiment were that states and U.S. Department of Education-approved HLS questions identified students differently due to unclear questions, such as asking bilingual families to name one dominant language. The authors recommend that additional validation measures of the survey questions be conducted.
State and Local Policy
English Learner Identification