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Florida Gathering Input on New English-Language Proficiency Standards

It appears Florida will soon make a choice between sticking with ELPA 21—a group of 11 states it joined in 2012 to develop new English-language proficiency standards and assessments—or ditching it for WIDA, a larger consortium of states that already shares proficiency standards and assessments for English-language learners.

Last week, Florida education officials started asking English-language learner educators and advocates across the state to review and provide their feedback on the two different sets of English-language proficiency standards. The public review period lasts through March 11.

If Florida leaves ELPA 21, it would be the second big departure from the original group of states that banded together and won a $6.3 million federal grant to devise new standards for English-language development and assessments that correspond with the demands of the common-core standards. Formally known as the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century, the group is led by Oregon. Similarly, WIDA states also won a federal grant—$10 million—to design a new English-language development test that is linked to the common standards. That effort is known as ASSETS and involves 35 states.

California dropped out of ELPA 21 exactly a year ago after education officials there decided they didn't want to scrap their own newly-revamped English-language proficiency standards in exchange for what ELPA 21 would be developing. The ELPA 21 standards were released last fall.

Florida officials would only say that no decisions have been made about which set of standards they will select. But it's intriguing that more than a year after committing to ELPA 21, the state is considering joining ranks with WIDA.

Florida's public schools educate some 250,000 English-language learners, making the state home to the third-largest population of such students in the country.


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