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Illinois Drops Alternative Test for ELLs


Illinois has stopped using an alternative mathematics and reading test for English-language learners because state officials haven’t been able to persuade the U.S. Department of Education that the test is comparable to the state’s regular tests.

The Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English, or IMAGE, uses simplified English to test ELLs in math and reading. Illinois developed the language arts part of the test in 1996 and several years later added the math part.

Matthew Vanover, a spokesman for the Illinois board of education, said the state will eventually develop another alternative test for Illinois’ 36,000 English-learners but, in the meantime, they will take regular state tests with accommodations.

Several other states—including Arkansas and Wisconsin—stopped using their alternative tests for ELLs after they ran into issues in showing the federal government that the tests were comparable to regular tests. At the same time, the Education Department has approved such tests in North Carolina and Virginia.

Click here for a message from Illinois Superintendent Christopher A. Koch, on the fate of the IMAGE test, that he sent to educators in his state.


I thought USDOE rejected VA's alternate test for ELLs last year (Va was using the English proficiency test for ELLs who were below a certain level of ENglish language proficiency) Is that correct?

Virginia was mandated by the U.S. Department of Education to stop using its English-language-proficiency test as a substitute for the state's reading test for ELLs. In July, the Education Department gave Virginia permission to use a portfolio test, another kind of alternative test, for English-language learners, starting this school year.

Mary Ann Zehr, Learning the Language

In your linked article, you mention that Nevada worked with the publisher to set cut-off scores. Do you have any information on how long it took Nevada to determine cut off scores? Do you have any information on how long it took for other States to do the same?


Sorry, I don't have any information about how long it took Nevada, or any other states, to determine cut-off scores for tests. You'll have to contact states' departments of education for additional information.

Mary Ann Zehr
Learning the Language

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