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Yo-Yo Federal Funding for ELLs in Arkansas

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Arkansas will receive 26 percent less in federal funds to educate its English-language learners this school year than the previous school year—-or $891,770 less than the $3.4 million the state received for such students last school year, according to an article published today in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. But last school year, the state got 90 percent more in funds for ELLs than it did in the 2005-2006 school year.

The amount of federal funding a state gets is based on the count of ELLs in that state, and the fluctuations in funding for Arkansas, according to the article, reflect the difficulty that the federal government has had in extrapolating an accurate count for each state from U.S. Census Bureau reports. A Government Accountability Office report released December 2006 documented that problem.

What do you think is the best way for the federal government to get an accurate count of ELLs for each state that it can use to give out funds? Do you accept the Government Accountability Office's conclusion that data on ELLs collected by states themselves is incomplete? What are the challenges for states to get an accurate count themselves?

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Based on my reading, the GAO suggests the incomplete State reporting is due to the lack of clear instructions by the Office of Education. So, it appears the greatest challenge for States is understanding what the federal government wants in its NCLB reporting.

Also, based upon my experience in Florida, schools and districts are very diligent in identifying ELLs and testing English language levels, according to procedures in place.

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