Nearly half—45 percent—of all Latino students are English language learners. The No Child Left Behind Act has not only helped to illuminate the large gaps between ELLs and their peers; it has compelled schools to implement strategies to reduce those gaps.
Yet holding schools accountable for the academic progress of ELLs has been met with some resistance due to the lack of valid academic assessments for this population. The 1994 Improving America’s Schools Act first required states to develop appropriate academic assessments for ELLs, but they are still sorely lacking nearly 15 years later.
Instead of potentially excluding half of the Latino student population from statewide accountability systems, the federal government should direct examinations into how to accelerate the development of these assessments. States need dollars and technical assistance to support these efforts, and their progress in developing these assessments needs to be better tracked and enforced.
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