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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Activists continue to push for changes to Florida's ELL rules



Discontent with the way Florida deals with the assessment of English language learners, activists are still trying to increase pressure on the Department of Education to adopt rules they consider more fair.

Most recently, they convinced the Hialeah City Council to adopt a resolution "strongly urging Florida Governor Rick Scott and the State Board Of Education to adopt and implement the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Inclusion and Accountability, and strongly urging the Florida Department of Education to maintain current ESOL training requirements for reading teachers of English Language Learners ("ELLs") in Florida’s public schools."

Other governments adopting similar measures include the Pembroke Pines City Commission, the Miami-Dade County Commission and the Hillsborough County School Board.

The crux of the matter continues to be whether it's fair to judge students who are still learning English based upon their mastery of the materials when they might not understand the test itself. They might excel on the test if given in their native language, but not necessarily do as well on the exam in English. State officials have said the federal government is making demands that Florida consider the students' proficiency, rather than gains, to keep its No Child Left Behind waiver. Activists have proposed several ideas to have the system consider this concern, but most have not been presented to the State Board of Education for a vote.

If pressure mounts, perhaps the state might bend. Gov. Scott has started to talk about reducing the overall testing burden on students amid increasing calls from school boards for a review of how Florida uses assessments. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 16, 2012 11:42pm]


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