Florida in top 3 states for English learners, but not among those meeting all federal objectives, report says

Teacher Robert Haskins works with ninth-graders Antonia Cortez, left, and Crisina Ventura using an iPad mini app that flashes pictures of items for the students to identify in English. SKIP O'ROURKE | Times [2013]
Teacher Robert Haskins works with ninth-graders Antonia Cortez, left, and Crisina Ventura using an iPad mini app that flashes pictures of items for the students to identify in English. SKIP O'ROURKE | Times [2013]
Published October 9

Florida trails only California and Texas in the number of English learners in its schools, according to a recently released federal report detailing 2012-14 date, the most recently available information.

But the state was not among those that met all the federal accountability targets set by Title III, according to the U.S. Department of Education report to Congress. Alabama was the only one to meet the mark in both academic years covered in the document.

New York, Utah, and Mississippi reported the largest increases in the
percentage of students making progress in learning English during the period.

The details serve to highlight concerns raised by Florida civil rights activists who consistently have criticized the state's efforts to hold schools accountable for English language learners.

They have noted, for instance, Florida's unwillingness to provide state standards tests in languages other than English. They also have complained about the state's limited use of subgroup data to determine how student populations are performing, and what additional assistance they need.

Their most recent criticism came after the U.S. Department of Education approved Florida's Every Student Succeeds Act plan, which continued to evade some of their specific points.

Related coverage: Gradebook podcast: Florida's ESSA plan wins approval, criticism 

The new federal report indicates that, despite being among the states with the most children needing language services, Florida did not set target goals for the annual measurable objectives. That's part of the problem, according to the activists.

It also showed that Florida's Title III subgrant recipients did not meet the objectives.

The state reported it did not need more teachers for English-language learners, though, because it required all educators be certified in the subject as part of a consent decree.

For more details, see The Biennial Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Title III State Formula Grant Program.

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