Hearing Opens in Legal Battle Over Arizona ELL Programs
On the first day of a hearing in a closely watched federal court case over Arizona’s programs for English-language learners, a single witness for the state department of education spent the entire day on the stand testifying on the success of the state’s approach to teaching students who need to learn English.
Meanwhile, news surfaced that federal civil rights officials took a slightly dimmer view of aspects of the state’s ELL programs. In letters sent to the state school superintendent last month, the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights, or OCR, said it had determined that two of the practices the state uses to identify which students require services, or for how long, violate federal law. They are the surveys schools and districts give to parents to initially identify students to be tested for ELL services and the process the state uses to reclassify ELLs as fluent in English even if they don’t pass all sections of the state’s English-language-proficiency test.
Both the outcome of the court case and the OCR rulings are likely to have ramifications far beyond Arizona. Some states or school districts likely have ELL identification and testing policies similar to the ones that federal officials singled out in the OCR letters. The court case is attracting national attention because it examines a question that many states and districts are trying to answer: What is the most effective way...
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- Regional Area Partner
- Focus EduVation, US
- The Berkeley Institute, HAMILTON, Bermuda
- Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
- Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke, VA
- Round Rock ISD, Round Rock, TX
- Christ the King Preparatory School, NJ