Researcher Proposes a ‘Weighted Index’ for ELLs under NCLB

By Mary Ann Zehr — July 11, 2007 1 min read
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David J. Francis, a psychology professor at the University of Houston and the director of the National Research and Development Center for English Language Learners, has an interesting proposal for how accountability provisions for English-language learners could be improved in reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. I hear through my sources that congressional aides have invited at least one expert on assessment of ELLs into their offices this summer to hear advice on how to reauthorize the act--but I haven’t heard if they’ve contacted Mr. Francis about his views.

Mr. Francis proposes that the accountability system for ELLs under the NCLB Act continue to incorporate both English-language-proficiency tests and content-area tests. But he says that more weight should be given to English-language-proficiency test scores when ELLs are new to the country and don’t know much English. As they spend more time in the United States and become more proficient in the language, their test scores on academic content tests should be given more weight, he says.

Mr. Francis’ proposal for a change in the federal education law--along with several others proposals for change--is described in a summary of a roundtable discussion on ELLs and the NCLB Act that was hosted by the Center on Education Policy in March. The summary of the meeting was posted this summer.

July 16 update: Diane August, a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, tells me she has discussed Dr. Francis’ weighted-index proposal with the staff of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Dr. Francis told me in an e-mail message that he has participated in a conference call with congressional staff on the topic of reauthorization of provisions for ELLs in NCLB.

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