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Management Bulletin 05-02

Informs school districts receiving adult education state apportionment about the legal requirements of offering GED preparation classes in the Spanish language.

Secondary, Postsecondary, and Adult Leadership Division

To: Adult Education Programs Funded by State Apportionment Number: 05-02
Subject: Teaching the Spanish General Education Development Test Date: December 3, 2005
Authority: Education Code Sections: 30, 310, 311(b)
Purpose

This is to inform districts receiving adult education state apportionment about the legal requirements of offering General Education Development (GED) preparation classes in the Spanish language.

Background

The GED test is available in three languages: English, Spanish, and French. Given that California has a large Spanish-speaking adult population, adult education programs and schools have asked the California Department of Education (CDE) to be allowed to teach GED preparation classes in Spanish and to claim adult education apportionment for those classes. The reason for the request was that some Spanish-speaking students are able to study for the GED in their native language but lack fluency in the English language to enable them to take the test in English, therefore, restricting access for those students to the GED test. The CDE requested a legal opinion regarding whether an adult education program or school could teach GED preparation classes in Spanish and claim state apportionment for those classes. An issue was whether teaching GED preparation classes in Spanish violated the provisions of California Education Code (EC) Section 30, which states that English is the basic language of instruction in all schools.

Regulatory Requirement

According to the CDE, EC Section 30 appears to govern the “language of instruction” in adult schools. It permits a local educational agency (LEA) to authorize bilingual instruction when it is "educationally advantageous to the pupils." If an LEA authorizes its adult education program or school to teach GED preparatory classes in Spanish to adult candidates who will be taking the GED in Spanish, it should not be considered as violating any statutory or regulatory law.

In addition, EC sections 300 et seq., which require children in California public schools to be taught English as rapidly and effectively as possible, apply only to children who are learning English in schools. These provisions do not apply to teaching adults in adult education programs or schools.

Further, there is nothing in the EC saying that a school district cannot claim adult education apportionment for teaching the Spanish GED.

Therefore, the legal opinion states that as long as the LEA governing the adult education program or school complies with the conditions of EC Section 30, which permits bilingual instruction when it's educationally advantageous to the pupils, GED preparatory classes for adult students who will be taking the GED in Spanish may be taught in Spanish. This applies only to instruction to adult students.

If the adult education program or school is teaching GED preparatory classes to high school or other students under the age of 18, the classes must be taught in English, unless the student has been granted a parental waiver pursuant to EC sections 310 and 311(b).

A school district adult education program or school offering GED preparatory classes in Spanish must ensure the teacher instructing the class meets the credentialing requirements set forth by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to teach the class in a foreign language.

This Management Bulletin is mandatory only to the extent that it cites a specific statutory and/or regulatory requirement. Any portion of this Management Bulletin that is not supported by a specific statutory and/or regulatory requirement is not prescriptive pursuant to EC Section 3308.5.

Questions:   Adult Education Office | 916-322-2175
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