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CCSSO Offers Counseling on 'Complex' K-12 English-Language Learner Policy

The Council of Chief State School Officers has compiled a compendium of guidance for states looking for ways to better identify, classify, and educate English-language-learner students.

Developed by the CCSSO English Language Learner Assessment Task Force, the 124-page guidance offers a four-stage framework to help states in "analyzing issues and strengthening policies and practices for defining ELs." The stages are:

  • Identify potential English-learner students.
  • Classify English-learner students.
  • Establish an "English proficient" performance standard on the state or consortium English-proficiency test.
  • Reclassify students to former English-learner status through the use of multiple exit criteria.

With the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the report authors say the compiled guidance offers timely advice on how best to serve the nation's growing population of English-learners. Under the new law, states will develop their own ELL accountability systems that must measure progress in English-language development and the number of students who become English proficient. Experts and ELL advocates are concerned that many states won't have the capability to carry out the duties.

"The complex policy and technical issues involved in developing a common EL definition are going to require a well-defined roadmap of processes and decisions for all consortia members to enact over time," the report reads. "It is prudent to approach the issue of creating a common definition of an English learner as a multiyear, multistaged, deliberative process."

   Moving Toward a More Common Definition of English Learner-Final

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