The Office of Bilingual Education (OBE) was established in 1969 as the unit within the New York State Education Department (NYSED) which provides support to districts in developing and implementing educational programs for limited English proficient (LEP) students. Under the guidance of OBE more than 520 districts currently implement educational programs and services for the nearly 220,000 LEP students in the state. These students come from over 170 language backgrounds. In early 2006, Foreign Language Studies (FLS) was added to the department title and today the department is known as the Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies (OBEFLS).
CR Part 154
Part 154 of the Commissioner's Regulations holds all school districts accountable for identifying and serving LEP students. Districts are required to adopt a policy on the education of LEP students, plan and provide appropriate services for them, evaluate and report their academic achievement. Instructional programs for LEP students are funded primarily through local funds but are supplemented by State LEP Aid, known as State Bilingual Categorical Funds. NYS authorizes additional funds that are administered by OBEFLS to address current critical needs identified in the state. To guide and support districts in providing better services to LEP students, OBEFLS has undertaken several initiatives:
- addressing the needs of LEP students in early childhood education;
- providing resources and technical assistance to school districts to prepare bilingual and ESL teachers to raise standards and achievement levels for LEP students;
- identifying instructional strategies for LEP students with interrupted formal education;
- developing resource documents to support literacy development for LEP students.