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Update on the LEP Partnership

When U.S. Department of Education officials speak publicly about sticky issues concerning English-language learners, such as how to assess them, they usally mention the LEP Partnership.

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced the partnership in July 2006 as an effort to help states deal with assessment of ELLs. State education officials have come to Washington twice so far for meetings of the partnership. The LEP Partnership members will meet for the third time on Sunday, Oct. 28.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond J. Simon's staff provided a schedule for the release of six publications that the Education Department has been working on to aid states on sticky issues concerning ELLs, which I excerpt here.

Schedule for Release

Of the six projects, the Department of Education is releasing the first one: "The Framework for Developing High Quality English Language Proficiency Standards and Assessments." The other five projects are supported (and will be released) by the Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center. Some of those projects will be disseminated at the Partnership meeting, and some will be discussed at the meeting, but not released yet.

Here are the titles of the projects and the authors:

"A Framework for Developing High Quality English Language Proficiency Standards and Assessments"—authored by the U.S. Department of Education with assistance from the Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center. This document will be released by the department at the LEP Partnership meeting.

"A Guide for Sight Translation of Assessments"—authored by Charles Stansfield. This paper will be discussed at the meeting, but is not yet ready for release. The Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center will release this paper within the next few months.

"A Guide for Plain English/Linguistic Modifications"—there are two companion papers on this topic, one authored by Jamal Abedi and one by Edynn Sato. The Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center will release both of these papers at the Oct. 28 meeting.

"A Guide for Native Language Assessments"—authored by Melissa Bowles and Charles Stansfield. This paper will be discussed at the meeting, but is not yet ready for release. The Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center will release this paper within the next few months.

"A Guide for How Title I/Title III Assessments Can Inform Each Other"—authored by Stanley Rabinowitz. This paper will be discussed at the meeting, but is not yet ready for release. The Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center will release this paper by the end of November.

"A Handbook of Best Practices in Test Accommodations and State Assessment Policies for English Language Learners"—authored by Charlene Rivera. This paper will be discussed at the meeting, but is not yet ready for release. The Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center hopes to release this paper in 2008.

This is all fine and good, but I know some experts on ELLs out there who also want to see the Education Department release its two-year evaluation of how states are faring in meeting adequate yearly progress for ELLs under the No Child Left Behind Act, which is required by the legislation. The most recent data available is from the 2003-04 school year, and some say it's important to have more recent data to inform discussions now going on about how to authorize provisions for ELLs in NCLB.

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