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Report: Reviewers Aren't Getting Consistent State Data on ELLs

Federal reviewers aren't receiving consistent feedback from states on how they include English-language learners in large-scale academic content tests or provide testing accommodations, a report by George Washington University's Center for Equity and Excellence in Education has found. The reason, the report indicates, is because federal peer reviewers and monitors don't ask for consistent information about ELLs and testing across states.

The report recommends that the U.S. Department of Education spell out more clearly the expectations for how each review process will examine states' efforts at including ELLs in testing. It also recommends that federal peer review committees and monitoring teams include experts on ELL assessment.

"There is an issue of the peer reviewers not having a good foundation on how English-language learners are affected by the assessment process," said Charlene Rivera, the executive director for the center and one of three authors of the report.

"Some states are being asked for one thing. Some are asked for others," added Lynn Shafer Willner, who along with Barbara D. Acosta, is also an author of the report.

The Education Department conducts two reviews that are aimed at supporting state education agencies in meeting federal requirements to validly assess all students. The report explains that one review is called "the standards and assessment peer review" and the other is a monitoring review for use of funds from Title I, the section of the No Child Left Behind Act authorizing funds for disadvantaged students.

The researchers characterized feedback that federal reviewers received from states on ELLs and testing as "scattered, and, when given, inconsistent."

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