By Delia Pompa
The Every Student Succeeds Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law last month, includes important policies that recognize the needs and diversity of English learners in an effort to close the ongoing achievement gap between them and other students. The bill, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also crucially maintains accountability for improving academic achievement of English learners – a hallmark of the last reauthorization, known as the No Child Left Behind Act.
Given the new law’s overall thrust of reducing federal authority in education, however, ensuring that the needs of English learners are met will be complicated by the fact that education agencies in 50 states and the District of Columbia will be interpreting the new mandates and perhaps implementing them differently.
The law has many strengths with respect to the nation’s approximately 5 million English learners in K-12 classrooms. The most far-reaching change requires that states include English language proficiency in their accountability frameworks under Title I, the provision that governs accountability for all low-income students.