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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Advocates of English-language learners speak out against Florida's proposed school grading rules



Criticism continues to mount over a proposal to overhaul Florida's school grading system as the details emerge.

Joining a chorus of educators and parents of students with special needs is the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, which keeps a vigilant watch over how the state implements its education programs for children still learning English.

In a letter to Florida Board of Education members (attached below), LULAC leaders decry the proposed grading rule for the way it ignores supports needed for English-language learners, or ELL's. From the introduction:

"We are concerned about the timeline for implementation of the proposed rule, the lack of research based data to support it, especially for Reading provisions; and lack of enabling support by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) for ELL instruction. We also note that elements that should be part of the accountability formula for ELLs have not been included in the rule.

"Were we to recommend that second year students in German as a Foreign Language or German/English Dual Language Programs be tested with a German language Reading test designed for native speakers of German, that they be expected to score as well as native speakers of German, and that the results should be factored into the schools' report card grade, the members of the State Board of Education would rightly suggest we go back to the drawing board.

"We urge the Board to take the same skeptical approach to the sections of the proposed rule that affect another group of second language learners: Florida's English Language Learners (ELLs)."

State education officials have told the Gradebook that the current proposed version of the rule might not be the final one, as staff might recommend changes before it comes to the board. The board then might alter the rule at the table, vice chairman Roberto Martinez said.

This all comes to a head on Tuesday. It's the first action item on the board's agenda. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 6:27am]


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