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English Language Learners to Get Support on Next Year’s ACT

English Language Learners to Get Support on Next Year’s ACT

2017-2018 should mark a year of change for the country’s English Language Learners.

Not only will the new education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act, provide English Learners (ELs) with new opportunities to master English proficiency and demonstrate academic achievement, the ACT will be providing ELs with extra support on next year’s exam.

The ACT, which is currently the most-taken college entrance exam, announced today that it will be providing ELs with a series of accommodations that are designed to help them succeed despite challenges on the test.

The accommodations include extra time, use of a “word-to-word bilingual glossary,” test instructions in the respective EL’s native language, and the option to take the test free of distraction, like in a separate room away from peers.

These supports, the ACT said in its statement, were developed after insight from a panel of "external experts representing state education agencies, colleges, EL and bilingual policy administrators from state departments of education, civil rights advocates, testing and measurement experts, and researchers.”

In order to ensure that the supports are working to help ELs succeed, the ACT has also developed a “full research agenda” it will implement in "support of the validity of scores earned by students using the supports based on actual test results.” 

The ACT has designed the supports to be used by ELs who are in their school district’s English Learner’s program and meet the definition of what defines an English Learner as determined by the ESSA.

The ESSA defines an English learner as a student "who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual's level of English language proficiency,” which encompasses students not born in America, students who speak a native language other than English, and students who are migratory or live in outlying areas where English is not commonly spoken.

English Learners often have a harder time meeting academic standards, being successful in English-instructed classrooms and “participat[ing] fully in society.”

The ESSA aims to alleviate these difficulties with added supports, and the ACT is one of the first organizations to follow in its footsteps.

Read the full ACT statement here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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