New laws focus on English learners, school grades

Posted: April 16, 2017 at 1:06 a.m.

Instructor Jeanie Nance (left) helps Juan Zacharias, 17, on Thursday with translating a paragraph into English in the language academy meant for English language learners at Har-Ber High School in Springdale. A new law, Act 991, changes testing and performance requirements for English language learners in the state’s academic accountability system.

A Republican state representative from Rogers wants state grades given to schools to reflect more than what students score on one standardized test given annually.

Katherine Ascencio (center), 17, and Lisset Martinez, 16, both sophomores at Har-Ber High School, read Thursday in the language academy meant for Engl...

HB1607, now Act 991

• Sponsored by Rep. Jana Della Rosa, Sen. Uvalde Lindsey, and 20 other state representatives and two senators

• An act to limit the use of an English learner’s score on a state-mandated assessment for public school and public school district accountability purposes

Key provisions

• State test scores do not count for growth or achievement in accountability ratings for campuses and school districts for English learners enrolled in a U.S. public or private school for less than 12 months.

• State test scores count for growth purposes only for English learners enrolled in a U.S. public or private school for between 12 and 24 months.

Source: Staff report

HB1608, now Act 744

• Sponsored by Della Rosa and Lindsey

• An act concerning the accountability system developed by the state of Arkansas under the Every Student Succeeds Act

Key provisions

• School rating system to consist of multiple measures: academic achievement on the annual state testing system, student growth on the annual statewide testing system, school-level graduation rate and English learner progress or growth in acquiring English and at least one other indicator of school quality.

• Options are the other indicator are closing the achievement gap; academic growth of specific student groups; percentages of students who earn credit in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, concurrent credit programs or industry-recognized credentials; equity in resource allocation; student access to flexible programs that allow for personalized, competency or mastery learning; the proportion of educators with National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certifications or with advanced degrees; and public school district and community partnerships.

Source: Staff report

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