New York, Arizona At Odds With Ed. Dept. Over English Testing

By Mary Ann Zehr — July 11, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Federal education officials have told New York Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills that his state must change the way it tests English-learners or lose federal aid.

See Also

Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Education, responded in an e-mail message to Education Week last week that state officials are willing to “arrive at a solution,” but that it is “premature to outline a solution now.”

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, states must include English-language learners in regular standardized assessments in reading and mathematics and use those scores in calculating schools’ and districts’ yearly progress toward statewide achievement goals.

During their first year in the United States, however, English-learners don’t have to take a state’s regular reading test, though they must take the regular math test and an English-language-proficiency test. In addition, states don’t have to include English-learners’ scores in reading and math in calculations of adequate yearly progress until the students’ second round of annual state testing.

New York, however, has continued to use its English-proficiency test, called the New York State ESL Achievement Test, or NYSESLAT, as a substitute for the state’s regular English-language-arts test for the second and third times that English-learners participate in statewide testing.

A June 27 letter from the U.S. Department of Education to Mr. Mills said that New York must stop that practice if it is to continue to receive its full amount of Title I funds. The federal department gave the state an “approval pending” rating for its assessment system because of how it uses the NYSESLAT for accountability and for an issue concerning how it assesses special education students. (“Department Raps States on Testing,” this issue.)

The federal officials gave New York 25 business days from receipt of the letter to submit a plan for complying with the NCLB law for the 2006-07 school year. If the state doesn’t stick with its plan, the letter said, it will lose 10 percent of its Title 1, Part A, administrative funds, for fiscal 2006.

Arizona Issue

Meanwhile, Arizona state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne is threatening to sue the U.S. government over another matter regarding English-language learners and accountability.

He maintains that the federal government made an oral agreement with Arizona that permits the state to exclude the test scores of English-learners in calculations of adequate yearly progress for the first three years the students are in U.S. schools.

“The big issue is keeping one’s promises,” Mr. Horne said in an interview. Arizona received a letter from the federal Education Department on June 30 approving the state’s assessment system. The letter added that such approval doesn’t resolve the dispute the federal government has with Arizona concerning how it is calculating adequate yearly progress for English-learners.

“We will continue to work to resolve that issue,” the letter said.

A version of this article appeared in the July 12, 2006 edition of Education Week as New York, Arizona At Odds With Ed. Dept. Over English Testing


School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Voters Want Republicans and Democrats to Talk About Learning Recovery, Not Culture Wars
A recent Democrats for Education Reform poll shows a disconnect between political candidates and voters on education issues.
4 min read
Image of voting and party lines.
Federal Use Your 'Teacher Voice,' Jill Biden Urges in a Push for Political Activism
Voting in the midterms is a critical step educators can take to bolster democracy, the first lady and other labor leaders told teachers.
5 min read
First Lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Boston.
First lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention in Boston.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Federal Federal Initiative Leverages COVID Aid to Expand After-School, Summer Learning
The Education Department's Engage Every Student effort includes partnerships with civic organizations and professional groups.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event on June 2, 2022, at the Department of Education in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event at the Department of Education in Washington in June. The department has announced a push for expanded access to after-school and summer learning programs.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Restraint and Seclusion, and Disability Rights: Ed. Department Has Work to Do, Audit Finds
The Government Accountability Office releases a checklist of how the U.S. Department of Education is performing on a list of priorities.
4 min read
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the Education Department in Washington on Aug. 9, 2017.
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. The Government Accountability Office has released recommended priorities for the Education Department that target special education rights.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP