States Collaborate on English-Language Proficiency

By Mary Ann Zehr — November 28, 2007 1 min read
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About half the states in the nation are using one of four tests created by four consortia since 2002 to meet English-language-proficiency testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. A report edited by Jamal Abedi, a professor of education at the University of California, Davis, released today tells a great deal about those tests. Mr. Abedi says they are a big improvement over tests typically used prior to NCLB in that they assess “academic English,” the kind of English children need in order to learn subjects in school. (For a Nov. 28 Education Week article about the report, click here.)

The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment consortium of states, for instance, created a test, ACCESS for ELLs, that has been selected by 15 states—and Virginia just decided to adopt that test next school year as well.

But some other states selected new English-proficiency tests put on the market by commercial developers. That doesn’t mean, however, they can’t have a consortium, too.

This week, six states that have all adopted a commercial test, LAS Links, developed by CTB/McGraw-Hill, joined together to form a consortium, the English Language Proficiency Collaboration and Research Consortium. The six states are Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, and Nevada.

Beth Celva, the director of the unit of student assessment for the Colorado Department of Education, told me today in a phone interview that she’s hoping the collaboration will help the six states share data about student achievement. She’s particularly interested in information about ELLs in high school or ELLs who have disabilities, she said.

Marisol Enriquez, an assessment consultant for the same education department, noted that she’s hoping to learn more from other states about how to train teachers to administer LAS Links.

And they’re also interested in gaining more insight into the question that practically every state seems to be asking these days: What’s the relationship between how well ELLs score on an English-proficiency test and how well they perform on other mandatory state assessments, such as for math or reading?

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