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Ore. Wins Federal Grant for New English-Language Proficiency Exam

The U.S. Department of Education this afternoon announced that the state education agency in Oregon has won a $6.3 million grant to create a new English-language proficiency test that will measure the language demands of the common standards.

Oregon is actually the lead state in a group of 12—including the ELL-rich states of California and Florida—that will develop the assessments used to annually measure how English-language learners are progressing toward proficiency. The other states in the group are Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia. Oregon's key non-state partners in this effort include Stanford University and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

This effort also brings us a new acronym to add to our edu-alphabet soup guide: ELPA21. That's for English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century consortium.

This is the second federal grant that's been issued to support the creation of an English-language proficiency test that aligns with the common core standards. The first—a $10.5 million award to a group of 28 states led by Wisconsin—was announced a year ago. That group of states is collaborating with the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium, or WIDA, to develop technology-based exams.

That California and Florida are among the dozen states in the Oregon-led group helps settle in part the question of how English-language proficiency for the millions of ELLs who do not attend school in states that are part of the WIDA group would be measured in the common-core era. California, as you probably remember, had previously taken a crack as the lead in a consortium of 15 states to win a grant and was rejected by the Ed. Dept.

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