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New K-12 Law Holds Promise for ELLs, Advocate Says, But Questions Remain

How states and districts implement the Every Student Succeeds Act will make, or break, the law's provisions for English-language learners, the former director of the U.S. Department of Education's office of bilingual education office told members of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, Delia Pompa heaped praise on the Every Student Succeeds Act's push to address the needs and diversity of English-learners while also holding states and districts more accountable for their performance. But Pompa spent just as much time stressing that creating and enforcing regulations are key for the law, if it is to truly benefit the nation's 5 million students learning English as another language.

"The primary responsibility ... rests squarely on the shoulders of states and districts, which have been given greater authority under ESSA to interpret the new mandates. But they can't do it alone," Pompa says in her prepared testimony.

"The bottom line is that the new, important EL policies ... will not be effective if the overall accountability that states develop are not strong enough to ensure that schools are held accountable for the success of all children."

Pompa, the senior fellow for education policy at the Migration Policy Institute's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. She is also a former kindergarten teacher, a Houston school system administrator, and an assistant commissioner of the Texas Education Agency.

The issues that Pompa addressed are common among the nation's K-12 English-learners advocates, who are hopeful yet wary of how the law will affect public education for ELLs.

Pompa was one of six education officials testifying before committee on ESSA implementation. Here's a look at her testimony:

  Pompa

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