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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ELL test warning not the first for Florida



Florida officials could not have been too surprised at the U.S. Department of Education's recent warning that the state's stance on test scores for English-language learners would not withstand federal scrutiny.

They have, in fact, heard it before.

In an April letter to Florida commissioner Pam Stewart, U.S. assistant education secretary Deborah Delisle noted that the rules on counting the test scores had been in place since the outset, and the onus was on Florida -- not the feds -- to change.

"I appreciate Florida's efforts to be in compliance with federal law and, at the same time, address the concerns of its constituents," Delisle wrote at the time. "However, consistent with the reasons ED conditioned Florida's original approval of ESEA flexibility, I am declining to exercise my authority to grant the waivers that you have requested."

Knowing this, the bigger question is why the USDOE extended Florida's waiver of the No Child Left Behind rules, Education Week writer Lesli Maxwell suggested:

"So while the feds wrote that they do not 'approve' of the two-year testing timeline because it flies in the face of the NCLB law, I'm still baffled as to why they would agree to extend the waiver at all when Florida's law is so clearly in conflict with their own. Florida's public schools educate more than a quarter million English-language learners, so we're talking about a lot of students."

Key Florida lawmakers said they would count on the state Department of Education to work out the details with their federal counterparts. FLDOE spokesman Joe Follick said officials would be consulting with superintendents, community activists and other interested parties before determining a specific set of actions. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 2:24pm]


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