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Teachers Should Have Say on When Students Exit ELL Status, Guidance Argues

Educators who work directly with English-language learners should play a major role in determining when, and if, the students no longer need the specialized services, newly issued guidance from the Council of Chief State School Officers recommends.

Close to 30 states rely on a single benchmark—results on an English-language proficiency exam—to determine which English-learners are reclassified as English proficient while only 15 states use teacher input or evaluation.

In the new guidance, authors make the case that relying on a single, high-stakes assessment is problematic, and that states should rely on two or more measures to determine when students exit English-learner status. Using multiple measures allows for "more robust reclassification policies and procedures," they argue.

Robert Linquanti, a senior research associate at WestEd, a San Francisco-based research group, and H. Gary Cook, Rita MacDonald, and Daniella Molle of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, wrote the report.30SR-ELL-Graduation-Teacher-Joel-Miller-blog.jpg

"Professional standards of education and psychological testing clearly stipulate that high-stakes decisions regarding students—particularly education program placement and provision of services for English learners—should not be made on a single test score, and that 'other relevant information' constituting complementary evidence is warranted," the authors write.

"EL reclassification policies and practices can and should be strengthened, made more coherent, and standardized within states in ways that enable local educators ... to meaningfully participate in making reclassification decisions."

Robert Linquanti, a senior research associate at WestEd, a San Francisco-based research group, and H. Gary Cook, Rita MacDonald, and Daniella Molle of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, wrote the report.

To develop a more complete picture of ELL students' English proficiency, the guidance offers sample processes on observing and analyzing how ELLs use language in the classroom—including how well they read, speak, listen, and interact with others.

"We maintain that additional sources of evidence complementary to large-scale annual ELP (English-language proficiency) assessments are necessary to ensure valid inferences and appropriate educational decisions for a group of students that are a protected class under federal law," the authors write.

Part of an ongoing effort to bring more consistency to services for English-language learners, the guidance is the latest in a series related to moving toward more common policies and practices to identify, classify, assess, and reclassify ELLs as former English-learners.

Here's a look at the guidance:

   CCSSO Ell Use Guidance by corey_c_mitchell on Scribd

Related Stories

English-Language-Learner Classification Can Impede Student Growth, Study Finds

States May Move Closer to Uniform Way of Identifying ELLs

CCSSO Offers Guidance on Reclassification of English-Language Learners

ELL Assessment Group Moves Ahead on Standards, New Tests

New Guide to Help States Commonly Define English-Language Learners

Photo Credit: Andrew Echeverria, left, gets help from Joel Miller, a veteran educator who teaches a course for long-term English-learners at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. The course was created to help students who have struggled to become proficient in English.

--Emile Wamsteker for Education Week
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