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Advocates Call for NY Waiver Plan to Offer More Support for ELLs

New York has drafted its application to get out from under provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act and has been getting lots of feedback on how to improve its plan before submitting it to the U.S. Department of Education later this month.

New York will be the third among the "Big Seven" states—home to most of the nation's English learners—to formally seek a waiver. Florida and New Jersey were among the 11 early bird states that applied. And according to the Ed. Department's ESEA flexibility page, Arizona and Illinois will seek waivers too.

California is among a handful of states that have expressed deep reservations about the requirements of the waivers. And Texas hasn't given a clear signal on what it will ultimately do.

So that brings us back to New York, where advocates for English learners are asking writers of the state's waiver application to provide more details on how it will address the needs of ELLs.

In a letter to the state department of education, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund finds much to praise in the New York plan, including the state's effort to update its ELL standards and align those with the common standards, as well as the assessment used to measure English language proficiency.

But the letter outlines areas of concern, too. Chief among them is New York's plan to continue testing any ELL in grades 3-8 who has been enrolled for more than one year on the state's English/language arts exam, and using those results for accountability purposes. The letter says the state's plan would benefit from more specifics on how it will tailor interventions for ELLs as a whole and even more specifically for the diversity of ELLs in New York, such as long-term English learners and students with interrupted formal education.

We'll stay tuned to see if New York makes changes to its plan based on this feedback.

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