Most Waiver-Winning States Revamped Plans for English Learners

By Lesli A. Maxwell — February 09, 2012 2 min read
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It appears that just about every state that applied for—and won—an escape from requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act had to tweak its plan to better demonstrate how it would address the needs of English learners. A weak spot for nearly all of them was how they would guarantee that ELLs could fully access the more rigorous coursework and curriculum expected to emerge from adoption of the common standards. Of course, this is a pressing issue in every state, waivers or not.

Here’s a quick rundown, gleaned from each state’s documents posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

COLORADO: The state added more detail to its plan to make sure ELLs and students with disabilities would have full access to the more-rigorous common-core standards. That included laying out professional development plans to include a wide swath of school staff, such as content teachers, language teachers, and literacy

FLORIDA: This state’s waiver was conditionally granted on the basis that the state will revise how it includes ELLs and students with disabilities so that their performance is fully reflected in the state’s A through F grading system.

INDIANA: Like Colorado, Indiana also laid out in more detail how it would make sure that ELLs and students with disabilities access the common-core standards and are fairly assessed on them. The state has technical assistance centers that will support districts to do this.

KENTUCKY: Another state that needed to beef up the details on how it would ensure that ELLs would get access to the more-rigorous common standards, Kentucky said it will partner with the University of Louisville to provide professional development to all teachers who work with ELLs.

MASSACHUSETTS: This state provided more detail on how it will include academic growth of ELLs and students with disabilities into its guidance for school districts that are developing teacher- and leader-effectiveness measures.

MINNESOTA: This is yet another state that had to address how it would train teachers to make sure ELLs and students with disabilities don’t miss out on the rigor of the common-core standards. (We are officially beyond the old newsroom standard that “three is a trend” and have moved into the “four is a theme” territory)

NEW JERSEY: And our count goes up to five. New Jersey, too, had to show how its professional development plan for moving teachers to the common-core standards will address the needs of ELLs and students with disabilities.

OKLAHOMA: Make it six. Oklahoma also addresses the common core for ELLs by requiring each school that receives interventions to include a “Language Instruction Educational Plan” for each ELL and provide training for all teachers on improving achievement for ELLs.

TENNESSEE: The final tally is seven. Tennessee joins the other six states in having to pledge more to ensure that ELLs will access the common standards. This state also added more detail on how it will factor the performance of ELLs and students with disabilities into its teacher-evaluation system.

Notably, Georgia was the only waiver state that didn’t appear to have to address any ELL-related issues in its revised plan.

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