ESSA Updates: How Have States Set Goals for English Learners in ESSA Plans? An Analysis of States’ Academic and English Language Proficiency Goals (August 2018)

This brief by Achieve and UnidosUS analyzes states’ goals for English learners (ELs) in their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in two key areas: (a) it examines how each state’s academic achievement goals in English language arts and mathematics for ELs compare with the goals set for other student groups and (b) it analyzes the EL language proficiency goals and how states plan to assess ELs’ language proficiency gains. The authors found that lower expectations for ELs are severe in many states. To assist policymakers in being more intentional in their support of ELs who must simultaneously acquire content knowledge and become English proficient, the authors provide the following recommendations for achieving educational equity for this student group:

  • Establish the same set of academic goals for all students.
  • Measure ELs’ interim progress toward meeting academic goals.
  • Set rigorous definitions for EL subgroup identification.
  • Establish achievable goals based on performance data.
  • Differentiate goals by grade level.
  • Develop state EL goals using a framework that takes the diverse characteristics of ELs into account.
  • Use data that will identify ELs for targeted support and inform instruction (pp. 19–20).

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College- and Career-Readiness Standards & Assessment E-Newsletter