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Oregon Suspends Use of Aprenda--a Spanish-Language Test

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Oregon has become the latest state to stop using an alternative test for English-language learners because federal education officials have questioned its comparability with the state's regular test. A number of states have already dropped alternative tests for English-language learners for the same reason. Some educators in Illinois are still upset that the state dropped the use of its simplified English test for ELLs. This is the first time that I've heard of a state having to suspend the use of a Spanish-language test for ELLs.

Doug Kosty, the assistant superintendent for assessment and information services for the Oregon Department of Education, sent out an e-mail message yesterday putting school administrators on notice that the Aprenda 3 Spanish-language reading test can no longer be used for calculating adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Schools had been using the Spanish-language reading test for some ELLs in 3rd grade.

"To receive full approval of its assessment system from the U.S. Department of Education, the use of Aprenda for AYP and report card is suspended until Oregon is able to provide evidence that the assessment is comparable to its English reading assessment," the e-mail message said. State officials are considering whether to submit additional evidence about the use of the test for calculating AYP to the federal government by Feb. 1, the e-mail message said.

Mr. Kosty told me in a phone interview that 718 3rd-grade ELLs, out of the state's 60,000 ELLs, took the test last school year. Oregon provides Spanish-language tests for some other grades and subjects as well and will continue to do so. Mr. Kosty said the change in test policy will likely make it more challenging for several schools within the state that have a high concentration of Spanish-speaking ELLs to meet AYP goals in reading for ELLs.

He noted that the issue of whether the Aprenda test used for 3rd grade reading was comparable to the state's regular reading test for that grade arose during monitoring by federal education officials.

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