Governor Signs Bill to Extend Support for ELL Students

A bill signed by Governor Terry Branstad today will provide much-needed additional support for English Language Learner (ELL) students by extending funding from a maximum of four years to five years. The number of ELL students, including refugees from around the world, has grown significantly in Iowa over the years.

Additional support for ELL students was a top legislative priority of Des Moines Public Schools during the 2013 session of the Iowa General Assembly.

“As our state’s school districts, both large and small, teach an increasing number of ELL students it is critical educators have the tools to help them overcome language barriers. This will help them succeed as students in the classroom and as citizens in Iowa,” said Tom Ahart, Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. “The Governor’s signing of the ‘standings bill’ is a step forward in recognizing that some of our ELL students simply need more time and support. We appreciate the support of both the Governor and legislators on this issue.”

The ‘standings bill,’ SF 452, would increase the eligibility of ELL students to receive supplementary weighting for excess costs associated with their instruction from 4 to 5 years. This extension applies to ELL students first identified on or after July 1, 2010 and goes into effect with the budget year beginning July 1, 2014. Students identified as English Language Learners, based upon state tests, received an additional twenty-two percent in state aid to support the costs of their language education.

Both Des Moines Public Schools as well as the state of Iowa has seen a five-fold increase in the number of ELL students over the past 20 years:

Des Moines Public Schools

State of Iowa










NOTE: Figures are from certified enrollment reports from the Iowa Department of Education