Selected States’ Responses to Supporting High School English Language Learners
How have states responded to the English language learner accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act at the high school level? In this policy brief, prepared by WestEd Senior Research Associate Nanette Koelsch for the National High School Center, provides a snapshot of achievement and educational outcomes of secondary English language learners, and several states’ efforts to improve the assessment and reporting of these outcomes, including their state-level accountability systems and policies. Koelsch outlines several key issues, including:
- Closing the achievement gap between English language learners and White, African American, and English-fluent Hispanic student groups is critical to ensuring the academic success of the approximately 2.4 million English language learners in the United States, many of whom lag behind their peers in state, district, and school assessments.
- NCLB holds states, districts, and schools responsible for the success of students learning the English language, but lack of accurate or uniform data from local education agencies hampers the ability of states to monitor and report the progress of English language learners.
- Improvement in data collection, assessment, instruction, and accurate reporting of academic achievement results for high school English language learners is crucial, not only for accountability but also for shaping policy around improved instruction, effective teaching, and access to appropriate levels of support.
After examining the four states with the largest English language learner populations—Florida, California, Texas, and New York—the brief concludes with the following:
- Building state systems (longitudinal and growth models, etc.) that track student information—such as demographics, test scores, access to rigorous coursework, retention and graduation rates, and other data—allows states to analyze the impact of different instructional options and supports offered to English language learners throughout the state.
- The Regional Comprehensive Centers that serve the states can assist state education agencies with building the state-level capacity of their local education agencies to support assessments, data collection, and technical assistance needs.
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