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Texas Bills Aim to Improve Programs for ELLs

Though Texas has been permitted to postpone submitting a plan to a federal court to improve programs for high school ELLs until the state's appeal in the case can be heard, legislators have still introduced some bills this session aimed at improving programs for ELLs.

For example, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat, filed a bill that would require the Texas Education Agency to more aggressively monitor results for English-learning students, the El Paso Times reported in a Feb. 20 article (hat tip to TESOL in the News Blog.) Bilingual educators from across the state recently held a demonstration at the Capitol in Austin to ask the legislature to support bills to improve programs for ELLs.

William Wayne Justice, a senior U.S. District judge for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, ruled in July in U.S. v. Texas that Texas violates federal law by not providing adequate programs for secondary English-language learners. He gave Texas until Jan. 31 to submit a plan for how to improve programs for ELLs in grades 7-12 and the state's monitoring system for ELLs in all grades.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in Tyler, ruled just before the Jan. 31 deadline that the state could wait to fix ELL programs until it reaches a decision on the state's appeal.

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