E.g., 10/03/2023
E.g., 10/03/2023
Taking Stock of Dual Language Learner Identification and Strengthening Procedures and Policies
May 2021

Taking Stock of Dual Language Learner Identification and Strengthening Procedures and Policies

Nationwide, one-third of children ages 5 and under have at least one parent who speaks a language other than English. These Dual Language Learners (DLLs) are an incredibly diverse and growing group of young children, and with the right support these preschoolers have the potential to develop as multilingual and multiliterate individuals.

Related Resources

Other resources produced by MPI's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy as part of this project include:

  • Sociodemographic data profiles with the number and characteristics of DLLs and other young children ages 0 to 5 and ages 0 to 8, as well as their families, nationwide and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia

Yet detailed data on the number and characteristics of DLLs in early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs are rare, due to a lack of standardized policies and procedures for identifying them. This information is urgently needed to ensure these programs are responsive to DLLs’ individual experiences and learning needs, and to support program improvements, professional development, resource allocation, and more.

This report examines the extent to which federal agencies, states, and localities have procedures or guidance in place to identify DLLs in early childhood programs. Among the more advanced state and local efforts this analysis explores are those in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania. The report also includes a discussion of opportunities to advance more comprehensive DLL identification policies and practices.

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  The Importance of Accurately Identifying DLLs in Early Childhood Programs

3  Assessments and Implications for Identification Procedures

4  Efforts to Identify DLLs in Federal Programs
A. Federal DLL Policy Statement
B. Early Head Start and Head Start
C. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program
D. The Child Care and Development Fund
E. The Every Student Succeeds Act

5  State and Local Efforts to Identify DLLs in Preschool and Other Early Childhood Programs
A. Illinois’ Bilingual Pre-K Instruction
B. New York State’s Emerging Multilingual Protocol
C. Pennsylvania’s DLL Identification Procedure
D. Minnesota’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) Program
E. The Fresno Language Project in California

6  Implications for Policy and Practice
A. Policy Levers to Promote DLL Identification
B. Concluding Thoughts