Of all aspects of U.S. public education, perhaps nowhere has The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) had a greater impact at the classroom level than in the teaching of English Language Learners (ELLs). One important trend among states seeking to comply with the law is the tendency to develop a single, statewide process of identifying, assessing and redesignating ELLs. This study examines those states with the largest ELL populations with regard to both their standards and assessments and their educational accomplishments to date. Findings include:
- Texas has resisted the above trend, and allows school districts to designate Limited English Proficient (LEP) students differently, so that a child can conceivably be labeled as such in one school district, but labeled English proficient in another.
- New York employs the widest variety of assessments for English learners of the states examined – some twenty different tests, including reading tests in Spanish and Chinese.
- Illinois, one of the few states in the U.S. that mandates bilingual education, allows school districts the lowest criteria for demonstrating acceptable progress for improving English fluency among all states examined. It switches to a new statewide assessment in Spring of 2006.
- Florida has made small, but positive progress with its LEP population since 2002-03, and, with its NLCB plan renegotiated, some more short-term progress can be expected.
This paper also analyzes various elements of NCLB’s accountability requirements and offers specific policy recommendations to address problems raised, such as developing a more meaningful starting point for Adequate Yearly Progress, exempting LEP students from meeting the state’s proficient level until they have been in the U.S. for five years, and assessing individual LEP student progress, not the progress of the group as a whole. It also demonstrates how NCLB has led to improvements in state monitoring of academic progress by LEP students, and development of statewide proficiency tests.
Find Archived Articles: