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Every Student Succeeds Act

ESSA Regs: Ed. Dept. Wants Input on Measuring English-Language Proficiency

By Alyson Klein — June 01, 2016 1 min read
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If you skimmed the U.S. Department of Education’s 190-plus page proposed regulations for accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act, you probably know that the public has until Aug. 1 to submit comments on the draft.

In particular, though, the department wants to know what folks think of its proposal on setting goals for English-language proficiency. Under ESSA, states will have to include schools’ progress in this area as part of a school’s overall rating.

But when does an English learner stop being an English learner? Should the department ask states to come up with their own “maximum” time during which a student is expected to become proficient? And if so, what kind of research should inform states’ timelines? If you have ideas, the department is interested in hearing them. The department noted that the law already defines “long-term English-language learner” as a student who has been in U.S. schools for five or more years without being reclassified as proficient.

Want more on long-term ELLs? I visited Los Angeles Unified earlier this spring, and profiled the district’s recent focus on this challenging population. Several years ago, the department’s office for civil rights found that L.A.U.S.D. wasn’t providing an adequate education. Since then, the district has put in place a program just for this particular population—complete with its own set of specially designed text books—and trained 1,200 educators on how to work with long-term English learners. Still, these students present many challenges. Read about it here.

The story was part of a package Education Week put together on ELLs, which, the proposed regulations note, are a growing population in states like Iowa, North Dakota, and West Virginia. You can read the whole report here.