Do Districts Have Incentives Not to Reclassify ELLs as Fluent?

By Mary Ann Zehr — December 01, 2009 1 min read
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If school districts rushed to reclassify English-language learners as fluent in the language, practically any school in the United States wouldn’t make adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act, argues a reader of this blog.
That reader, who calls himself MrNathan, is one of several who weighed in on a blog post about an accusation that the Los Angeles school district is keeping some English-language learners in programs longer than is necessary. The opinion piece described in the post says that the state provides a financial incentive to keep ELLs in special programs, and readily reclassifying ELLs makes it harder for districts to make AYP for that category of students.

Katheleen Leos, however, who directed the office of English-language acquisition at the U.S. Department of Education for two years when George W. Bush was president, says in a comment on the blog that California is having trouble making progress with its ELLs because its instruction for them isn’t aligned with the content standards and instruction for regular students.

And prolific education blogger Joanne Jacobs posts remarks that education policy should be changed so that school districts are rewarded for reclassifying ELLs. She suggests that districts receive a “bonus” for moving students out of ELL status after a certain number of years. That bonus money could be used to support ELLs after they are moved to mainstream classrooms, or to aid other struggling students, she says.

I welcome others of you who are involved in the education of ELLs to put in your two cents on the issue.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.