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U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance for ELLs

There doesn't seem to be anything really surprising in the official guidance (Word doc) that the U.S. Department of Education has released spelling out how schools should implement testing and accountability provisions for English-language learners under the No Child Left Behind Act. (Read the corresponding regulations published Sept. 13 in the Federal Register.)

I picked up one detail that was new to me: the clock starts ticking as soon as English-language learners (the Education Department calls them limited-English-proficient students) enter U.S. schools for the three-year time period that they are permitted to take state tests in their native languages.

The 14-page "non-regulatory guidance" contains a rationale for one of the federal government's most controversial regulations concerning this group of students: to permit schools to exempt English-language learners from only one administration of a state's standardized reading test. That means that any ELLs who have been in U.S. schools for at least 12 months have to take their state's regular reading test.

Here's an excerpt: "[T]he Department strongly believes that all LEP students--including recently arrived LEP students--need to be included in assessments, with necessary accommodations, and visible in accountability systems in order to improve both instruction and achievement of this population."

Readers: If something in the guidance really strikes you, please let the rest of us know through the Comment section of this blog.

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