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Portland ELL Programs Get Low Marks in Recent Audit

An audit has found that recent efforts of the Portland, Ore., school district to improve services for English-language learners are not helping to narrow the achievement gap between those students and other students. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that the audit found the district doesn't have a consistent approach for providing services to ELLs.

In her response, Superintendent Carole Smith said the district is working to improve teacher training, monitoring of students, and collaboration, according to the article.

A state audit back in Feb. 2009 also featured the problem of consistency in the district's ELL programs.

Last year, state education officials put a hold on giving federal funds for English-language-acquisition programs to the Portland school district until the programs met federal standards. Then in May, the education officials decided that the school district had made enough improvements with how it educated ELLs that the money would flow again.

Portland is not the only urban school district with systemic problems in how it serves ELLs. Boston Public Schools recently settled with the U.S. departments of Justice and Education on how to bring services for ELLs in that school district into compliance with federal law. The office for civil rights of the Education Department has eight other compliance reviews under way focused on ELL services in school districts.

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