Enrolling English Learners

English Learners: How to Apply

The San Francisco Unified School District is committed to ensuring that English Learners acquire high levels of English and home language proficiency (where available), academic achievement and skills that will lead to success in the 21st century. As such, we provide various educational programs and language pathways for students who are English Learners. This section provides a general overview of the enrollment process for English Learners. For a complete description, see the English Learner Program Guide, available though the Enrollment Center (EC) or on the English Learner Family Guides page.

Who is an English Learner?

Your child is classified as an English Learner (EL) if when you filled out the “Home Language Survey” on the SFUSD Enrollment Application, you answered at least one of the following questions with a language other than English:

  • What language did your child first learn when s/he began to talk?
  • What language do you use most frequently to speak with your child?
  • What language does your child use most frequently at home?

And if at grades Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and above, your child did not receive an overall score of “Initial Fluent English Proficient” on the Initial English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC) or your child has not yet been reclassified as an English-proficient student by SFUSD.

If my child is an English Learner, how do I enroll them in school?

Students who speak a language other than English and list a Language Pathway as a school choice may be assessed for their current language skills to evaluate a child’s proficiency in the pathway language before they can enroll in school. Parents/guardians should submit their child’s enrollment application early to meet with an EC counselor and complete the necessary language assessments.

Where does my child take the assessment test?

Where students take the test depends on where they reside in the city and where is convenient for your family:

  • Most students will be invited to take the language assessments in-person at 555 Franklin Street. Families wishing to take tests on Saturdays will all be assessed at this location.
  • Students who live in the southeastern part of San Francisco - Bayview, Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, Portola - may take the Spanish assessment at the EC Southeast office at 1520 Oakdale (Leola Havard Early Education Center).

Staff from the Enrollment Center (EC) will contact families to schedule and conduct assessments prior to families receiving a school assignment. More details on eligible programs for English Learners and classification requirements can be found in the English Learner Program Guide, available at the Enrollment Center and online on the English Learner Family Guides page.

What happens after the test?

Once the test is completed and scored the parents/guardians speak with a counselor at the EC to discuss test results, program options, and support services. Parents will have the opportunity to change the school or program requests on their child’s application if they so choose and/or if their child is not eligible for a selected language pathway.

What are the language programs available for English Learners?

SFUSD provides 6 programs:

  • Dual Language Programs
  • Biliteracy Programs
  • Secondary Dual Language Programs
  • Newcomer Programs for students new to the United States
  • World Language Programs
  • English Plus Programs

We encourage parents and guardians to learn more about how each program can help English Learners academically succeed.

Where can I find more information about these programs?

See more information about Language Programs in the English Learner Family Guides.

Reclassification for English Learners

English Learners can be reclassified as Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) students after meeting linguistic and academic criteria set by the state and district. The Multilingual Pathways Department regularly distributes a list of students who potentially qualify for reclassification to schools. Schools are responsible for starting the reclassification process for each student. When a student is reclassified, the student’s academic progress must be monitored for two years.

Learn more about reclassification of English Learners. Information also is available in the English Learner Program Guide, available online and at the Enrollment Placement Center.

Special Education for English Learners

Information on Special Education Services for English Learners with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) is available at www.sfusd.edu/sped, and in the English Learner Program Guide, available online at English Learner Family Guides and at the Enrollment Center, 555 Franklin St. (room 100) in San Francisco.

This page was last updated on September 13, 2023