To the Editor:
I just finished reading “The Every Student Succeeds Act: An ESSA Overview.” I still find it hard to believe that educators permitted the accountability provision under Title III—the English-language-learner provision—to be moved into Title I and did nothing to change the minimal time now allowed for these children to acquire English skills.
According to the new Every Student Succeeds Act, ELL students can be tested in both reading and math in their third year and these results treated as though these students were native English speakers. In doing so, ESSA is ignoring the research on how long it takes students to acquire on-grade-level proficiency in English.
After two or three years in an English-as-a-second-language program, students may sound like native speakers because they have gained informal conversational skills. The research indicates that it may take up to eight years in English-only programs for children to acquire the academic language they need to be successful at their grade level. Why is the research still being ignored?
Claiming that merging Title III accountability with Title I will put the focus where it needs to be is ludicrous, since each state will choose to focus on what it feels is important. It took federal oversight to get many states to provide appropriate services for English-language learners. What will happen to them now?
A version of this article appeared in the May 11, 2016 edition of Education Week as ESSA Ignores the Research on Testing English Learners