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Feds Make ELLs a Priority for Tests Based on Common-Core Standards

The federal government intends to provide grants for the development of English-language-proficiency assessments that are aligned with the national common-core standards. A notice of the U.S. Department of Education's new priority to support the creation of new English-proficiency tests for English-language learners appeared this morning in the Federal Register. The deadline for comments on the notice is Feb. 7.

In the notice, the federal government proposes that it will give grants to consortia of states to create the English-proficiency tests, which would complement tests already being created for all students aligned with the common-core standards for mathematics and English-language arts.

Interestingly, the proposed grant competition would push the country toward more uniformity for the definition of English-language learner and common criteria for determining when ELLs should no longer get special help to learn English. The notice says that the states participating in a consortium to develop the new English-language-proficiency tests would have to use a common definition for ELLs and common criteria for considering them to no longer have that status.

Currently, each state has its own definition for ELLs and criteria for students to exit programs. The federal government has already pushed for states to establish standardized criteria within states for when ELLs exit programs, but it's new for the federal government to push for standardization between states.

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