How Next-Generation Standards and Assessments Can Foster Success for California’s English Learners: Policy Brief

By Robert Linquanti, Kenji Hakuta

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Description

California cannot afford to ignore or postpone questions of how to support the academic success of its K-12 English learners. This group represents more than 40 percent of the state’s K-12 public education students, and its share of enrollment is growing.

How well California serves these students will help determine the vitality of the state’s economy and society in the years ahead.

California’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), its revision of state English Language Development (ELD) standards, and its governing state role in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) all present opportunities to move forward on the challenges of fairly and accurately assessing the academic performance of English learners.

WestEd’s Robert Linquanti and coauthor Kenji Hakuda argue that:

  • The state should address the correspondence between its ELD standards and its content standards strategically, to identify and prioritize aspects of the CCSS that maximize the potential for new assessments to attend to and measure language that is most relevant to academic content constructs.
  • The next-generation academic content assessments now being developed by SBAC must move toward gauging the use of academic language of all students and reporting on their performance.
  • Educators need to shift how they provide both ELD and core content instruction so that English learners have greater opportunities to learn language through content, and to learn content using language.

The authors offer recommendations throughout the brief to help education leaders and policymakers move toward these goals.