Flexibility given in testing students learning English
Sept. 14, 2006
WASHINGTON - The Education Department gave states final permission Wednesday to
leave out the test scores of newly enrolled kids with limited English kills when
The goal is to give schools extra time to work with these students before being
held accountable for their yearly progress. Schools welcome the offer because it
helps them meet their goals - and avoid penalties - under the No Child Left
The policy applies only to students who have been in a U.S. school for less than
a year. States may exempt their math and reading scores when measuring yearly
progress. Though freshly repackaged, the flexibility is not new. States have
been allowed to exempt test scores on a case-by-case basis since 2004, when
former Education Secretary Rod Paige announced the draft policy. Forty of them
now do it.
The final version, announced Wednesday by Education Secretary Margaret
Spellings, opens the offer to all states.
Arizona Schools Chief Tom Horne has called this policy absurd and sued the
federal government in July saying it is not applicable to the state.
Arizona has given its language-learners three years to get up to speed before
using the students' AIMS test scores to determine if a school passes or fails
the federal "adequate yearly progress" standard.
Horne said he had a handshake deal with federal officials. Until the suit is
settled, Arizona had to include scores from second- and third-year
language-learners. State officials said 100 schools failed to make adequate
yearly progress because of the new policy.
Staff writer Pat Kossan contributed to this article.