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Florida Board Adopts New English-Language-Proficiency Standards

After a vote by the state board of education this week, Florida has adopted a new set of standards to guide the language instruction of its 250,000 English-language learners.

The board approved Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart's recommendation that the state adopt common-core aligned English-language-proficiency standards by WIDA, a group of 35 states that share the standards, as well as English-language-proficiency assessments. (WIDA stands for World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment.)

The vote to embrace WIDA's standards would seem to signal that Florida will part company with a separate consortium of states, known as ELPA 21, that has also created common-core-aligned English-language-proficiency standards and is working to design assessments.

But Cheryl Etters, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, said the board's vote this week was limited to standards adoption and that no decisions have been made about Florida's consortium membership.

I think a move by Florida to formally join WIDA is a foregone conclusion, however. In their recent request to renew Florida's waiver from parts of the No Child Left Behind Act with the U.S. Department of Education, state education officials make clear that they intend to use the WIDA assessment system in 2015-16, when the test becomes fully operational.

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