South Dakota has become the 17th state to decide to adopt ACCESS for ELLs, which is being used by more states than any other English-language-proficiency test to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act's requirement that schools test ELLs every year in their progress in English. The test is designed to assess ELLs in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and was created by the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment, or WIDA, consortium. WIDA was formed for the purpose of developing English-language-development standards and a test aligned with them. The previous generation of English-language-proficiency tests typically only assessed listening ...


A Spanish-speaking student or parent in Springdale, Ark., might tune into a local Spanish radio station or watch a local program on Univision these days and hear a public service announcement emphasizing the importance of state standardized tests. The 16,500-student Springdale school district has created such a public service announcement to try to motivate Spanish-speaking students to do better on state tests, according to a March 13 article in the Arkanas Democrat. The article tells how 17 out of 22 Springdale schools failed to meet federal testing standards (otherwise known as "adequate yearly progress" goals) last spring on state ...


Yvonne Watterson, a principal of an early-college high school in Phoenix, fought for her students who lacked residency and citizenship papers in the United States to continue to take college classes. The Arizona statute, Proposition 300, discontinued the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. And some of the high school students in Ms. Watterson's school who were taking college courses fell into that category as well. Read more in the story that Samuel G. Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, has written about Ms. Watterson that was published March 12 ...


I know at least one person here in the nation's capital who follows issues concerning English-language learners and at times has been as persistent as I have been in bugging the U.S. Department of Education for information: Don Soifer, the executive vice president for the Lexington Institute, in Arlington, Va., a conservative think tank. Both Mr. Soifer and I have noticed that the Education Department has so far taken one extra year to prepare a two-year evaluation of programs for English-language learners than it took to prepare its previous evaluation on such programs. The two-year report to the U.S....


An author of a letter to the editor of the Daily Herald published today contends that some school districts in Illinois are fulfilling the state's mandate to provide bilingual education by hiring Spanish-speaking teachers who aren't fluent in English nor certified to teach. She says Illinois should provide flexibility for schools to choose the method to teach English-language learners. I came across the letter over at TESOL in the News Blog. Someone called VLN, who apparently favors the mandate, writes in the comment section below the letter: "It's not just about learning English. It's about preserving their native language and ...


In trying to help English-language learners to feel more welcome, officials of the Phoenix-Talent School District in Phoenix, Ore., are starting with school buses, according to a March 10 article in the Mail Tribune. At a recent training, 15 bus drivers were told that it's important for them to greet students warmly, learn their names, and keep them engaged by delegating responsibilities. (Sounds like a good policy for interacting with people in general.) A high school student is quoted in the article as saying that some bus drivers often act irritated and she wishes that they were friendlier. I couldn't ...


For at least a decade, one-fourth of California's primary and secondary school students have, on average, been English-language learners. So educators in states that are the "new kids on the block" in teaching such students might want to spend some time with EdSource's report, "English Learners in California: What the Numbers Say." (The 16-page report costs $5.) The report gives some answers to important questions about student achievement, and poses some additional questions that need to be answered. Those answers will carry weight because California enrolls one-third of the nation's ELLs. It's interesting, for example, that the EdSource researchers found ...


If signed into law, a bill passed in the Utah legislature last week would help create 15 dual-language programs at elementary schools, according to a March 7 article in the Salt Lake Tribune. The programs would teach Chinese, Spanish, French, and Navajo, along with English. Last summer, the legislature in Texas passed a bill to create a six-year pilot project for dual-language programs in 10 Texas school districts. See "School Districts That Offer Dual-Language Classes Through High School." In dual-language programs, children who are native speakers of English and children who are native speakers of another language, such as Spanish, ...


Several of Education Week's blogs, including Learning the Language, have received "excellent" ratings from a company called Blogged.com. I received an e-mail message from a marketing person from the company saying my blog had been given a 9.5 score out of 10 by editors who evaluated my blog according to frequency of updates, relevance of content, site design, and writing style. According to Webware: Cool Web 2.0 Apps for Everyone, Blogged.com is a blog rating service that launched on Feb. 25. The "About Us" section of blogged.com says it has a database of more than ...


Over the weekend, I traveled to Memphis to give a speech about trends in the education of English-language learners. I spoke during a luncheon at the annual conference of the Tennessee Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Here are the trends that I talked about: --More immigrant families are moving to small-town or rural communities that haven't received many immigrants for at least a century. (I noted that some school districts in those small towns and rural areas do a good job of quickly putting programs in place to serve English-language learners while others don't.) --The federal No ...


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