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Illustrative Example: District Policy Development

English Learner Roadmap Illustrative Example from the Los Angeles Unified School District on development an EL Roadmap-aligned district policy.

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Illustrative Example Overview


The Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A. Unified) is the largest district in California. Serving approximately 695,000 students, L.A. Unified is comprised of approximately 1,322 schools and centers within its boundaries that include the majority of the City of Los Angles as well as all or portions of 26 other cities and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County.

Over 60 percent of students live in a home where a language other than English is spoken. The demographics are 74 percent Latino, 9.8 percent white, 8.4 percent African American, 6 percent Asian, and also includes many other ethnic groups. Overall, L.A. Unified students speak 94 languages other than English at home.

In 2017, L.A. Unified decided to reimagine its Master Plan to better meet the needs of the diverse communities it serves. With the passage of Proposition 58, also known as the California Education for a Global Economy Initiative, and the adoption of the State Board of Education’s English Learner (EL) Roadmap Policy by L.A. Unified’s Board of Education, L.A. Unified determined that 2017 was an ideal time to revisit the Master Plan (last published in 2012) in order to make it consistent with these important new developments.

The L.A. Unified 2018 Master Plan for English Learners and Standard English Learners (2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs) lays out the district’s vision for educating its culturally and linguistically diverse students, including increasing dual language education programming to provide opportunities for all students in the district to become bilingual and biliterate.

To create this plan, L.A. Unified engaged in a collaborative development process that brought representatives from all L.A. Unified’s stakeholder groups together. In addition, L.A. Unified sought an outside reflective partner in the master plan rewrite process, in the form of a contract with the Center for Applied Linguistics, in order to implement a multi-phase approach to develop the new master plan.

Phase One: Planning Phase

In this phase, L.A. Unified brought in different leaders in the community representing a variety of groups, from school teachers and administrators to parent and student groups. L.A. Unified also took the EL Roadmap Policy, Proposition 58, and current L.A. Unified policies, programs, and practices into account. Facilitators asked key stakeholders what they knew about the 2012 Master Plan, what worked about that plan, and what needed to be changed. Over 43 feedback sessions were held with a total of 763 participants over 6 months.

Phase Two: Writing and Feedback Phase

After the planning phase, L.A. Unified began phase two, the writing and feedback phase, which included forming an ad hoc working group with key stakeholders. In order to ensure that stakeholders were engaged in the writing and revision process, L.A. Unified held stakeholder sessions in six local regions, gathering input from teams of parents, students, teachers, and administrators. After these initial input sessions, L.A. Unified assembled a stakeholder group that intentionally included families and students.

Principle one of the EL Roadmap Policy, assets-oriented and needs-responsive schools, was the guiding principle throughout the entire process. It was a critical priority to L.A. Unified that community members be included in the process as well. This ad hoc working group met bi-monthly to rewrite the 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs. L.A. Unified held a total of 43 stakeholder feedback sessions throughout the writing process.

The result of this assets-based, community-focused approach were L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs guiding principles: assets-based education, sociocultural competence, alignment and articulation, bilingualism and biliteracy, rigorous academics for all, and systemic support. These principles were used as the foundation and guidance for the development of L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs.

The guiding principles of L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs set the foundation for the content in the chapters. The content includes: discussion of topics relevant to understanding, supporting, and educating English learners and standard English learners; details on the programming available for English learners and standard English learners; resources for teachers and administrators implementing the curriculum and assessment for those programs; ideas for family engagement; and selected resources for further information and assistance. The content included in L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs reflects and serves to fulfill the district’s mission: “Embracing our diversity to educate L.A.’s youth, ensure academic achievement, and empower tomorrow’s leaders. We are L.A. Unified.”

Phase Three: Publication, Distribution, and Training

Phase three of L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs was publication, distribution, and training to support the transition and implementation. In order to ensure that all teachers and administrators received information about the new master plan, all teachers and administrators participated in a required professional development on L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs. Student leaders who participated in the ad hoc working group also created their own presentations for students at school sites and presented to school-based leaders during the District’s Master Plan Institute. L.A. Unified also created training modules for families and educators on the new 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs.

While not all districts may choose to call their EL policy a Master Plan, the collaborative development process that L.A. Unified engaged in to develop its 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs can serve as a model for other districts as they seek to update local EL policies to align with the EL Roadmap Policy and Proposition 58.

Principles, Elements, and Priorities Addressed

Principle One: Assets-Oriented and Needs-Responsive Schools

Principle Three: System Conditions that Support Effectiveness

Principle Four: Alignment and Articulation Within and Across Systems

Evidence of Effectiveness

The Characteristics of Examples web page includes information on the criteria used to evaluate illustrative example submissions.

Standard 1 (supported by an existing research basis)

The central theoretical motivation for this work is influenced by the continuous improvement model most recently synthesized in the improvement science work of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Standard 2 (local metrics of system implementation and adult learning outcomes)

By addressing both English learners and Standard English learners in its 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs, L.A. Unified emphasized the necessity to share leadership roles and responsibilities for English learners. This emphasis on shared leadership to ensure EL success reinforces that English learners are a central focus for all leaders, not just those whose positions or titles directly address English learners.

L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs also ensures that all educators receive professional learning opportunities focused on the new master plan. However, since the master plan was adopted and implemented in 2018, there has not been sufficient implementation time to observe outcomes.
Standard 2a (local metrics of student learning supports and processes)

Student learning was central to the development of L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs. Students helped inform and develop the policy and served as members of the committees that provided input throughout the process. Additionally, L.A. Unified’s 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs was built to be consistent with the EL Roadmap Policy and to ensure that English learners have the opportunity to engage in intellectually rich learning consistent with age-appropriate standards-based instruction.

Given the 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs was adopted and implemented in 2018, ongoing monitoring and evaluation will occur throughout the implementation in order to meet the outlined goals.
Standard 3 (student learning outcomes)

Given the 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs was adopted and implemented in 2018, ongoing monitoring and evaluation will occur throughout the implementation in order to meet the outlined goals.


L.A. Unified's Master Plan web page External link opens in new window or tab.

  • Executive Summary
  • L.A. Unified's 2018 Master Plan for ELs and SELs External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
  • Video
  • Appendices
  • 2018 Master Plan Modules
    • Chapter 1: Assets-Based Instructional Programs for ELs and SELs
    • Chapter 1: Dual Language Education Overview
    • Chapter 3: Family and Community Engagement and Connections
    • Chapter 4: Elementary Master Plan Program Class Organization
    • Chapter 6: Professional Learning and Leadership Development
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Last Reviewed: Wednesday, May 26, 2021
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