San Diego Unified School District schools offer several programs for students learning English. In all of the programs, English learners receive concentrated instruction in the use of the English language appropriate to their grade and English language proficiency level. Such instruction must be provided by a teacher with advanced training in special strategies to help students increase their English proficiency and learn academic subjects taught in English.
Any student who lives in a home where a language other than English is spoken must take the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) within 30 days of his/her first date of enrollment in school to determine whether the student is fluent English proficient or an English Learner. The CELDT is then administered each year to "English learners" until they are reclassified as "fluent English proficient." CELDT results establish one of five proficiency levels for each student: Beginning, Early Intermediate, Intermediate, Early Advanced, or Advanced. The CELDT enables the district to monitor student progress in learning English and helps teachers diagnose students' instructional needs.
Structured English Immersion (SEI)
SEI is an enriched English program that is designed for English learners at the Beginning, Early Intermediate and Intermediate levels of English proficiency. In most cases, SEI students are clustered and purposefully placed according to English language proficiency level in grade-level classrooms that include native and fluent speakers of English. In these SEI "clusters," English learners typically make up about a third of the total students in the class. In certain cases, an entire class may be composed of English learners with similar proficiency levels, as long as they qualify for the SEI program. SEI teachers provide daily English language development instruction and Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE).
Mainstream English Cluster (MEC)
The MEC program is for English learners at the higher range of English proficiency (Intermediate, Early Advanced or Advanced). Many are simply continuing from an SEI program. English learner students are again clustered together in grade-level classrooms that include native and fluent English speakers. The daily English language development instruction targets high-level English academic skills, and Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) is provided in all core subject areas.
The Biliteracy program is for Spanish-speaking English learners. Students learn in both English (through SDAIE and English language development instruction) and their primary language, and maintain interaction with students enrolled in other programs. The primary language continues to be used at each grade level, while the percentage of daily instruction in English increases over time. English learners are sometimes grouped in full, grade-level biliteracy classrooms, or are sometimes grouped within grade-level SEI or MEC classrooms during English instruction.
For students to participate in this program, each year parents/guardians must come to school to be provided with full descriptions of all educational opportunities available to them. If they wish to keep their child in the Biliteracy program, they must sign a Parent Election Application (parental exception waiver). An approved Parental Election Application is required for participation in this program. Parents/guardians of English learners of any primary language group may apply, but classes are only established when a sufficient number of applicants of the same language group and grade level are approved.