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Title VI: Identifying ELL Students: Arizona Department of Education (AZ) OCR Complaint No. 08-06-4006

OCR Case Number 08-06-4006: The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated an investigation of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) in response to a class action, statewide discrimination complaint.  The complaint specifically alleged that ADE’s methods of reclassifying national origin minority students who are English language learners (ELL) result in many thousands of ELL students being reclassified as “proficient” in English when test results indicate that they are not proficient in English, thereby exiting them from ELL services prematurely.  With the cooperation of ADE and Arizona school districts, the Departments of Education and Justice conducted an extensive investigation of the state’s ELL policies and programs.  The Departments determined that ADE’s mandated use of the English language proficiency composite test score as the sole criterion for determining whether a student is ELL resulted in tens of thousands of ELL students being misidentified as Initially Fluent English Proficient (IFEP) or exited from ELL services without English proficiency in reading and writing, which is key to academic success. ADE entered into a resolution agreement to voluntarily resolve the matter.  Under the agreement, ADE and Arizona public schools will offer targeted reading and writing English language support intervention services to ELL students who were prematurely exited or incorrectly identified as IFEP over the past five school years.  The agreement also requires ADE to develop English proficiency criteria that accurately identify and exit ELL students. Press Release | Read the Resolution Letter download files PDF (433K) | Read the Resolution Agreement download files PDF (359K)


Last Modified: 01/15/2020