New York to Seek Federal Waiver to Test ELLs in Native Languages

Lesli Maxwell at Education Week reports that the state of New York is preparing to ask for federal waivers to administer Common Core State Standards language arts assessments in ELLs' native languages.  (New York is a member of the PARCC consortia, and Diane wrote about some of their other CCSS initiatives in this previous post.)

The first assessments would be developed in Spanish, given the high numbers of Spanish speakers in the state, and would be offered to ELLs that have attended schools in the U.S.  for fewer than five years. Lesli had previously reported on PARCC's plans to translate CCSS math assessments into Spanish, but this is the first such move in the language arts camp.  She also notes that this decision follows the release of results from New York's Common-Core aligned exams earlier this year, which dropped significantly from the year before.  3.2 percent of ELLs were proficient in ELA based on those results.

In addition, Lesli suggests that native language arts assessments are likely to be more useful and valid if the students have received language arts instruction in their native language. It will be interesting to see information about how widely such instruction is available across grade levels throughout the state.

We're sure many states will be keeping an eye out for the U.S. Department of Education's decision on this question.  What do you think about the idea?

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