Key Policy Letters Signed by the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary
December 17, 2007
Archived Information

December 17, 2007

Dear Chief State School Officers:

As you may know, the Department of Education's Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center has been drafting a Framework on High-Quality English Language Proficiency Standards and Assessments (Framework). The purpose of the Framework is to provide States with a tool that clearly sets forth possible criteria States may want to consider as they develop and implement their ELP standards and assessments. The draft Framework was shared with States at the LEP Partnership meeting in Washington, DC, on October 28.

In order to refine the draft Framework, and ensure that it reflects the knowledge of researchers and practitioners in the field, I would like to invite you to undertake an independent and voluntary self-directed review of your State's English language proficiency (ELP) standards and assessments using the Framework.

The goal of the self-review, first and foremost, is to gather comments, feedback, and suggested revisions on the draft Framework that grow out of direct use of the tool by States, and to determine the feasibility of implementing it on a broad scale. In addition, it is the Department's hope that the self-review will help States identify ways to modify, improve, and strengthen their own ELP standards and assessment systems.

Through the LEP Partnership, the Department is prepared to provide technical assistance support -- for a period of four to six months beginning in early 2008 -- to States willing and ready to engage in a self-directed review of their ELP standards and/or assessments using the draft Framework. The Department will provide resources for independent peer experts to work with States or groups of States to facilitate the review process, help document the findings for the States, and help prepare feedback to the Department on the draft Framework. The peer expert and technical assistance providers will not, however, report to the Department about the review activities they carry out through this initiative. The use of the Framework for a self-review is not a formal review of State ELP standards and assessments by the Department.

If your State is interested in participating in this self-directed review process, please send me a request, in writing, by January 18, 2008. You may be interested in working with other States if you use the same ELP assessments or are in a consortium. In your letter, please indicate a designee whom the peer experts and technical assistance providers should contact to gather further information on the status of your State's implementation of ELP standards and assessments so that they may evaluate how the self-review project can be designed to be most useful to your State.

In addition to the self-review, we hope to engage all States in an in-depth review of the draft Framework through local forums. The Department's Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center will work with the regional Comprehensive Centers to host local forums that feature a detailed discussion of the Framework document. The Department will post the dates and times of the forums on, the LEP Partnership's Web site, as they become available.

There also will be an opportunity for States to join peer experts and technical assistance providers in an examination of the draft Framework at the Council of Chief State School Officers' LEP State Collaborative on Assessments and Student Standards meeting, February 5-6, 2008, in Atlanta.

Finally, the draft Framework is available on the LEP Partnership's Web site at You are invited to provide written comments, suggested revisions, questions, and clarifications to the Department by e-mail to, regardless of whether you choose to participate in the self-directed review.

The further development of this draft Framework must be an iterative and supportive process -- involving experts in the fields of English language acquisition and assessment in an ongoing conversation with States -- if the Framework is to be a useful tool. This process will help ensure that the Framework reflects, as well as encourages, best practices in the rapidly evolving area of ELP assessments.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important project. I appreciate your support for the LEP Partnership and look forward to our continued efforts to improve assessments and achievement for our nation's LEP students.

  Raymond Simon
cc: State Title I Directors
State Title III Directors
State Assessment Directors

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Last Modified: 12/20/2007