December 15, 2003, Extra Credit
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December 15, 2003
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 December 12
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Final Exam Week: True/False On English Language Learners

True or False: No Child Left Behind requires newly arrived immigrants not fluent in English to take tests in English and unfairly holds schools accountable for the results.

Answer: False.

While each state must include English language learners in its accountability system, schools are expected to provide appropriate accommodations to ensure the most accurate assessments. Additionally, while any student who has not attended the school for a "full academic year," as defined by the state, must still be assessed, his or her score is not included in adequately yearly progress (AYP) determinations for the school.

Accommodations for English language learners may include native-language assessments, extra time, small group administration, flexible scheduling, simplified instructions, and allowing the use of dictionaries. Other accommodations might include providing audio-taped instructions in the native language, allowing students to respond in either their native language or English using audiotape, and providing additional clarifying information at the end of the test booklet or throughout the test (e.g., synonyms for unclear or idiomatic words and phrases). The federal government has provided funding to states to improve state assessments for all students, including English language learners in particular.

After three years of attending a school in the United States, students must be assessed in reading / language arts in English. The local education agency may continue, for no more than two additional consecutive years, to assess an English language learner with a native language assessment, if the local education agency determines, on a case-by-case basis, that a student has not reached a level of English language proficiency sufficient to yield valid and reliable information on what the student knows and can do on reading / language arts assessments written in English.

The U.S. Department of Education's non-regulatory guidance, "Standards and Assessments," provides additional information on this topic. It can be accessed at:

Note: The No Child Left Behind Extra Credit will not be published the weeks of Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. Publication will resume on Jan. 5, 2004.


About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 12/16/2003