Resource for English Learner Programs in Response to the Pandemic: USED Releases Pandemic Related English Learner Fact Sheet Addendum

    

Educators experienced profound changes, especially related to proper support of English Learners, as schools moved to distance learning. Many educators were left unsure of what was expected of them in terms of conducting English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessments and meeting compliance requirements. 

Guidance on how to provide English Language Programs came in the form of a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Education (USED), released in May 2020 and applicable for the 2019-2020 school year. The fact sheet outlined how State Educational Agencies (SEA) can complete ELP assessments, apply to waive these assessments and make decisions regarding the instruction and placement of English Learners without data from an assessment. No new guidance came in the fall, which left educators questioning whether the EL Fact Sheet’s guidance still applied. 

In January, the USED released an addendum to address educators’ questions regarding ELP assessments in the 2020-2021 school year. The addendum includes four questions related to ELP assessments written to SEAs; however, they impact what Local Education Agencies (LEAsor districts must do because LEAs administer ELP assessments. 

Must SEAs administer an annual (ELP) assessment in the 2020-2021 school year? 

The answer is YES and includes details and other information. 

What flexibilities are available to SEAs to administer ELP assessments? 

The answer provides two suggestions, which are to adjust the administration timeframe for ELP assessments and that ELP assessments may be administered remotely or in person. 

May a SEA continue to implement the modified temporary entrance procedures for identifying ELs as outlined in the EL Fact Sheet? 

The answer is Yes and indicates that the USED has extended this flexibility as outlined in question 4 of the EL Fact Sheet. 

May a SEA continue to implement modified exit procedures that include, at a minimum, an ELP assessment? 

The answer is Yes and indicates that the USED has extended this flexibility as outlined in the EL Fact Sheet but emphasizes that exit procedures must include an ELP assessment. 

While the information provided in the addendum helps clarify SEAs requirements, and by extension, LEAs requirements, it has not significantly reduced the difficulty in implementing these requirements, especially for LEAs who must administer ELP assessments. 

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About The Author

Dr. David Holbrook is a nationally recognized leader in federal programs administration and monitoring with expertise in Title I, Title III, Native American Education, and Federal Programs. Dr. Holbrook has also worked as a consultant with Title III of the US Department of Education and now serves as Executive Director, Federal Compliance and State Relationships with TransACT Communications.