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ESOL/Bilingual Programs → Instructional Programs → Students Engaged in Pathways to Achievement (SEPA) Program

Students Engaged in Pathways to Achievement (SEPA) Program


The Students Engaged in Pathways to Achievement program (SEPA) is a career-based instructional program for Spanish-speaking high school ESOL students who have experienced interrupted or limited formal education. To be eligible for the SEPA program, students must be at least eighteen (18) years of age at the start of their first school year in the SEPA program. The SEPA program is currently available to students at a limited number of high schools.

SEPA Instructional Pathway

Due to significant gaps in their schooling, SEPA students begin high school with academic skills that are several years below their grade level. For this reason, SEPA students are not likely to meet Montgomery County Public Schools graduation requirements by age 21. The SEPA program provides an alternative instructional pathway that allows students to continue their education while preparing for the world of work in the United States.

SEPA students take specialized classes to develop career readiness skills, learn English and math, and improve reading, writing, and academic skills. SEPA students also receive a wide range of support such as small class sizes, a summer Career Exploration program, bilingual classroom support, bilingual counseling, and assistance with student fees required at the Thomas Edison High School of Technology.

Process for Referring Students to the SEPA Program

A high school ESOL student enrolled in a METS program, who is a native speaker of Spanish, and will be at least eighteen (18) years of age by his or her first year in the SEPA program may be referred for possible placement in the SEPA program. Schools should follow the process for referring students to the SEPA Program outlined below:

The METS/ESOL teacher and/or ESOL Resource Teacher may initiate a SEPA Program Referral for a student who meets the following eligibility criteria:

  • Student is a native speaker of Spanish
  • Student will be at least eighteen (18) years of age by the start of his or her first year in the SEPA program
  • The student has demonstrated limited academic progress (based on work samples and formative assessments)
  • Student demonstrates an overall beginning level of English language proficiency (LB to HB level on LAS-Links)
  • Student demonstrates reading skills below grade 3 in English
  • Student performs below grade 5 in mathematics
  • Student demonstrates limited literacy skills in Spanish
  • Data indicate that the student is highly unlikely to meet MCPS graduation requirements by the age of 21

The school's ELL Team must complete the SEPA Program Referral form document in consultation with a school-based counselor. When completed and signed, the referral is sent to the SEPA Instructional Specialist for approval. The SEPA Instructional Specialist will work with the school to review all referrals and, when approved, schedule intake conferences with students and their families.