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Senate Draft of Title III of NCLB

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My colleague David Hoff has passed along to me a draft of Title III, the section of the No Child Left Behind Act for English-acquisition programs, that a Senate committee is proposing for reauthorization of the act. Unlike the "discussion draft" released by the House Education and Labor Committee in August, the proposals of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee are not yet online. The partial draft of a revised NCLB from the Senate has only been circulated among lobbyists for comments (for more on that see David Hoff's blog, NCLB: Act II).

This afternoon, I laid out before me hard copies of proposals for Title III from the House and the Senate committees, went through them with a highlighter and Post-its, and compared them with Title III in the current law.

The Senate committee draft doesn't propose any significant changes that I can detect. What's most interesting is that the phrase "scientifically based research," which now appears throughout Title III in NCLB, is in brackets. The staff of one of the committee members said language appearing between brackets is "still under discussion and not agreed to."

The Senate draft of Title III doesn't include several provisions for English-language learners proposed in the House draft. It doesn't, for example, require that states describe how they ensure that ELLs are provided with "access to the full curriculum in a manner that is understandable to and appropriately addresses the linguistic needs of such children." That requirement isn't in the current law, though it appears in the House draft. Also absent is the House draft's proposal that states be required to show that all teachers are fluent in English and in any other language used for instruction, another provision not in current law.

In sum, the Senate proposal for Title III is pretty much what the law says now.

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It would seem that the House has done their homework and the Senate has not when it comes to English learners. Access to the core curriculum is the heart of an equitable educational opportunity for English learners!

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