Florida students learning English can now wait two years before standardized test

Florida's education system and the federal government have been in a dispute, regarding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A rule stipulates students, who are learning English as a second language (ESL), must have standardized test scores counted as part of their grades after being in the country one year.


Pam Stewart, Florida Education Commissioner, and Governor Rick Scott, deeming the waiting period too short, asked for a waiver. The federal government denied it, causing the pair to request an amendment, asking for two years. They threatened a lawsuit if their request was denied. To avoid a lawsuit, the federal government approved the request with the provision Florida send test scores to the U.S. Department of Education of ESL students in the Florida system under two years.

Across Florida ESL students comprise 10% of total students enrolled. In Hillsborough County 12% of ESL students comprise the student population, and at King High it is 14%.Detractors say two years is not enough. Learner specialist, Leandra Vera, argues ESL students ". . . need to learn the standards . . . . but it's not realistic for a child that's been here for two ears to pick that up." Stewart says Florida prides itself as a national leader in teaching ESL students, adding great strides have been made to breech ". . . the achievement gap . . ." for ESL learners. She emphasizes they must stay on course to continue getting excellent results.

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