Assessment

Federal Officials Grant Florida Waiver on English-Learner Testing

By Corey Mitchell — December 22, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education has decided to give Florida flexibility in how it assesses English-language learners, bringing an end to a months-long dispute between the federal agency and state officials.

On Monday, federal officials granted the state’s request to give its ELL students two years in a U.S. school before counting their test scores in school grades. Deborah Delisle, assistant secretary for the office of elementary and secondary education, confirmed the shift in a letter sent Monday to Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

The change contradicts federal rules that demand all children be counted equally in accountability measures. This also marks the first time that the Education Department is relenting on the federal requirement that English-learners’performance on state content tests be part of school accountability after such students have been enrolled in U.S. schools for one year.

In the letter, Ms. Delisle wrote that the department had reconsidered Florida’s request and agreed to approve the testing flexibility because the state will still publicly report on performance of recently-arrived English-learners and include their scores in the growth component of the school-grading system.

With the move, federal officials are following the lead of state legislators in Florida, who changed the law this year to reflect that students still learning English should not be expected to immediately excel on the state’s annual tests. They gave the students two years in a U.S. school before counting their test scores in school grades.

Earlier this year, the Education Department scolded Florida as it renewed the state’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements, warning education leaders that they risked having the waiver revoked if the state did not comply with federal law on using ELL test scores.

About one in 10 Florida students, roughly 250,000, were English-language learners in the 2013-14 academic year. But not all those students would be affected by the testing requirement.

“I never got a sense of how many kids were going to affected or the level of proficiency of these students,” said Robert Linquanti, the project director for English-learner evaluation and accountability support at WestEd, a San Francisco-based research group. “I get the feeling that this was a debate on principle. What we had here was a debate about fairness.”

Related Tags:

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


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

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.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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

Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty
Assessment Opinion Q&A Collections: Assessment
Scores of educators share commentaries on the use of assessments in schools.
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Assessment Standardized Tests Could Be in Jeopardy in Wake of Biden Decisions, Experts Say
Has the Biden administration shored up statewide tests this year only to risk undermining long-term public backing for them?
6 min read
Image of a test sheet.
sengchoy/iStock/Getty