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Eleven States Meet All NCLB Goals for ELLs

We've got more data on English-language learners nationally than ever before, but we still can't tell if school districts are improving in how they educate such students. That's a theme that keeps popping up in discussions I've been having with researchers and policy analysts regarding national evaluations of the education of ELLs.

The American Institutes for Research just released three research briefs about implementation of Title III, the section of the No Child Left Behind Act that authorizes funding for English-language-acquisition programs. The briefs report that in the 2007-08 school year, 11 states met all their goals for English-language learners under Title III. That means they met the goals for English progress, attainment of English fluency, and demonstration of proficiency in math and reading. A story I wrote about the research briefs has just been published at edweek.org.

Back in the 2005-06 school year, no states met all their goals for ELLs. The AIR research briefs, which are precursors to a much larger evaluation of Title III implementation commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, don't say what the case was in the 2006-07 school year.

Both Education Department officials and the AIR authors of the research briefs told me this week in telephone interviews that because of the variability between states on their accountability systems and the shifting of components for accountability within states, we can't tell by the findings in the briefs if the education for ELLs is improving.

ELL experts had something similar to say recently about a report on how ELLs are scoring on states' tests, published by the Center on Education Policy.

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