English-Language Learners

Will Your State’s ESSA Plan Work for English-Language Learners?

By Corey Mitchell — September 11, 2017 1 min read
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The Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy has put together a framework to evaluate states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans to determine if they meet the law’s requirements for English-language-learner students.

Outlining 33 key questions, the brief guides readers through sections in state plans that should address English-learner accountability and offers guidance on how to evaluate the effectiveness of policies that states plan to adopt.

As the report authors write, ESSA requires states to provide a much clearer picture to the public on how English-learners are doing in schools, including keeping a closer eye on their English-proficiency progress and academic achievement. But there is already friction in some states over that mandate.

My colleague Daarel Burnette II took a look at the debate in Florida between English-learner advocates and the state education department, which is seeking a waiver from portions of the federal law.

Florida doesn’t want to judge schools based on how well English-learners perform on language-proficiency exams and also wants to avoid giving proficiency exams in students’ native languages as ESSA requires because, it says, the state constitution declares English as Florida’s official language.

ELL educators in Florida, which has more than 275,000 English-learner students, praised ESSA when Congress passed the law in December 2015, but the devil is in the details.

Advocates argue that the waiver, if granted, could weaken the law’s accountability measures for ELLs, wiping out the potential benefit for those students. Despite the concerns, state education department leaders insist that they intend to follow the spirit of the law.

Here’s a look at the Migration Policy Institute report.

Further Reading

More Testing is Forecast for Nation’s ELL Students

ESSA: Ed. Dept. Release English-Language-Learner Guidance

Florida to Seek Waiver From Key ESSA Provisions

Civil Rights Groups Mobilize to Block Florida’s ESSA Waiver Request

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