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ELLs' Test Scores Dip in Fairfax County Schools


For the first time, Fairfax County schools failed to make adequate yearly progress goals under the No Child Left Behind Act, and district officials say it's primarily because they were required by the federal government to change their policy last school year for testing English-language learners in reading, according to a Washington Post article published Aug. 24.

Officials from the Fairfax County school district put up a good fight last school year to get permission from the U.S. Department of Education to continue to give beginning-level English-language learners an English-proficiency test—instead of a regular reading test—for accountability purposes under NCLB. The Fairfax County school district and a number of other Virginia school districts lost the battle. The Fairfax County superintendent, Jack D. Dale, says he's hoping that the U.S. Congress will come up with new ways to measure schools' progress with reauthorization of the federal law, according to the Post article.

See my earlier post, "Fairfax County School Officials Back Down in Testing Impasse."


Failing to make AYP is different from a drop in the test scoores of ELLs. Which is it? AYP is based on progress in closing the gap. Lowering of scores means that the gap is increasing.


I've just put your question--which is an excellent one--to Paul Regnier, a spokesman for Fairfax County Public Schools. He says the test scores for English-language learners dipped this school year AND the school system didn't make AYP "almost certainly" because the school district changed its testing policy for ELLs. He said the school district is still doing number crunching and he can't give me actual test scores to back the generalization.

He notes that Virginia has ready for ELLs a portfolio assessment for the coming school year. With use of that assessment, he believes, test scores for ELLs will go up again and the district will be able to make AYP.
--Mary Ann Zehr, Learning the Language

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