English Learners

Tool Aims to Help Schools Better Identify English-Language Learners

By Corey Mitchell — March 06, 2017 1 min read
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A team of researchers has developed a new tool to help educators evaluate the effectiveness of the surveys that schools use to identify English-language learners.

The Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands’ English Language Learners Alliance created the Home Language Survey Data Quality Self-Assessment to aid state education departments and school districts improve the quality of data collected through home-language surveys—questionnaires used to identify students eligible for special help in learning English—and learn more about how the surveys are administered.

Under federal law, states must identify students who need extra services to learn English, and many schools use home-language surveys to find out whether children’s English skills should be tested. But educators, parents, and the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights have raised concerns about the wording of questions in some surveys, inconsistencies in how the surveys are administered, and the lack of language support for non-English speaking parents completing the surveys.

The new Regional Education Laboratory tool aims to take some of the guesswork and variation out of the process. The team developed a 44-item, 15-minute self-assessment that could allow schools to more accurately identify potential English-learners, avoid misidentifying students who don’t need extra services, and allow for money dedicated to help students flows to districts and schools that need it the most.

Here’s a look at the survey and the methodology behind it.

For Further Reading on This Topic

What’s in a Home-Language Survey?

Report Advises Rethinking Home Language Surveys

Home-Language Surveys for ELLs Under Fire

Screening Students Proves to Be Crucial

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