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ERIC Number: EJ875699
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb-24
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Home-Language Surveys for ELLs under Fire
Zehr, Mary Ann
Education Week, v29 n22 p1, 14-15 Feb 2010
A growing chorus of people are saying that some school districts are overzealous in categorizing students as English-language learners (ELLs) in the aim of complying with federal and state laws to ensure that children of immigrants get extra help with English. They contend that the information requested on the home-language survey that parents are commonly asked to fill out when they enroll their child in a public school can be misleading or misused. In Orange County and many other districts across the country, once a student is designated as an ELL, the label is not readily lifted. Meanwhile, in Arizona, state education officials have changed the home-language survey there to ask only one question rather than three, saying they want to cut down on the overidentification of students as ELLs. The U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights is investigating a complaint that contends, however, that by simplifying the home-language form, Arizona is discriminating against children who may be dominant in English but still need extra help to gain proficiency in it. States differ in whether they permit parents to remove a child who has been identified as an English-learner from special English instruction, such as English-as-a-second-language classes. The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act permits parents to remove their children from special English classes, but it also says that states' laws on the matter take precedence over the federal law. Arizona, California, Iowa, and Texas let parents waive special instruction in English. New Mexico and New York do not. Under the NCLB law, school districts are required to assess ELLs each year with an English-language-proficiency test, an exam that other students don't have to take. Districts vary in whether they are willing to honor a parent's demand not to give the test.
Editorial Projects in Education. 6935 Arlington Road Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5233. Tel: 800-346-1834; Tel: 301-280-3100; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; California; Iowa; New Mexico; New York; Texas
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001