English-Language Learners A Washington Roundup

Data on English-Learners Could Be Improved, GAO Says

By Mary Ann Zehr — December 12, 2006 1 min read

The Government Accountability Office has found that the Department of Education is using counts of children with limited English skills from the Census Bureau to distribute funds to states for English-language learners under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The federal education law permits the Education Department to use either data from the Census Bureau or data collected by states to distribute the $650 million for English-language learners authorized by Title III of the NCLB law to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Education Department officials told the GAO they have opted to use the Census data because the data that states have collected on English-language learners in their schools is not complete. Officials of some states said they failed to submit complete data because the instructions on reporting data from the federal government weren’t clear.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, recommends in the audit report released Dec. 7 that federal education officials clarify instructions for data reporting, and implement a “transparent methodology” for determining the accuracy of the two different sources of data.

A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2006 edition of Education Week

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