On Jan. 30, Kathyrn M. Doherty, who has been an important point person for English-language learners in the U.S. Department of Education, is leaving her post with the federal government. She's a special assistant to the Education Department's deputy secretary, Raymond J. Simon, and a political appointee. She told me this week briefly over the telephone that she doesn't have another job lined up. She's expecting a baby in April. Since May, when Margarita Pinkos left her job as the Education Department's director of the office of English-language acquisition, Ms. Doherty has been the department's spokesperson for federal ELL ...


The Grand Forks Herald of Grand Forks, N.D., has published a definition for an English-language learner in that part of the country. The piece, "What is ELL?," accompanies an article published yesterday about how public schools in Grand Forks, N.D., have recently experienced a dramatic increase in enrollment of such students. The newspaper's definition for "English-language learner" includes some technical information about ELL programs, such as that "students can be taken out of the program when they reach [level] 4.5, according to state law, but staff members at schools can decide to continue the ELL education." ELL ...


Staff members of the U.S. Department of Education have provided me with a factual statement about states that have alternative tests for English-language learners for calculating adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act—and states that have dropped such tests. They provided me with this statement in response to questions I had about whether federal education officials had told Oregon it had to suspend use of one of its Spanish-language tests. Here's the statement: There have been a few states that stopped using a specialized assessment for ELL students because the test did not meet the ...


Oregon has become the latest state to stop using an alternative test for English-language learners because federal education officials have questioned its comparability with the state's regular test. A number of states have already dropped alternative tests for English-language learners for the same reason. Some educators in Illinois are still upset that the state dropped the use of its simplified English test for ELLs. This is the first time that I've heard of a state having to suspend the use of a Spanish-language test for ELLs. Doug Kosty, the assistant superintendent for assessment and information services for the Oregon Department ...


The Detroit Metro Times has published an in-depth story this week about Iraqis who are new arrivals in Michigan. Called "Bush's War, Our Refugees" it mentions the impact of the new refugees on schools. For example, 21 of 24 students are Iraqis in one of the classes for English-language learners at Sterling Heights High School in Sterling Heights, Mich. The article says that 2,000 Iraqi refugees are expected to settle in Michigan this year. For more about the arrival of Iraqi refugees to the United States, see my post "Iraqi Refugees Trickle to the United States." The Center for ...


Quality Counts 2009, which will be published by Education Week on Jan. 8, focuses on English-language learners, so you'll soon be able to read up-to-date information about state policies concerning these students across the nation. To help illustrate the diversity of English-language learners in this country in the report I visited a school that just opened in the Bronx this school year to serve immigrant youths from ages 16 to 20. Many students at that school had just arrived in New York City over the summer. The school is called the English Language Learners and Support Preparatory Academy, ELLIS, for ...


The Web link is now live to sign up for a Dec. 11 webinar in which U.S. Department of Education staff will answer questions about the supplement-not-supplant provision of Title III under the No Child Left Behind Act. Specifically, the department staff will discuss guidance released this fall about the provision. The webinar will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and is being hosted by the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, which has a contract with the federal education department to provide technical assistance to states. Dec. 10 Update: The Education ...


The Council of the Great City Schools is conducting a study of four urban school districts that it deems as having success with English-language learners at the elementary school level, and it will produce a report on what has led to their success with these students. The organization expects to release the study's results at its annual conference next fall. But in the meantime, I'd thought you'd want to know which school districts have been selected. They are the Dallas, New York City, San Francisco, and St. Paul, Minn., school districts. The council chose the school districts based on achievement ...


Cecilia Munoz has been selected to be the director of intergovernmental affairs for Barack Obama's administration, according to the Washington Post. She's now the senior vice president at the National Council of La Raza and was a 2000 MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" winner. In her new job, she will be in charge of the White House office responsible for relations between the Obama administration and state and local governments. A 2005 piece on National Public Radio provides insight into her motivation to stand up for the rights of immigrants. Education Week has quoted Ms. Munoz over the years on issues ...


Bill Sizemore is not a familiar name to all of you. But his name is familiar to educators of English-language learners in Oregon. He was the sponsor of Measure 58, a ballot item that was rejected by Oregon voters on Nov. 4. If approved, it would have put a cap of two years on the amount of time that ELLs in that state could have received instruction in their native languages. A Dec. 1 article in the Oregonian says that Mr. Sizemore was jailed after a county judge found him in contempt of court for the fourth time. The article ...


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