We also note that the current policy environment may foster increased comparability among the ELP tests. The current efforts directed at developing and adopting common English language arts and mathematics content standards across the states and collaborating to develop common assessment systems to measure these standards may affect the comparability of ELP tests. Specifically, changes to states’ English language arts content standards are likely to trigger changes in states’ ELP standards. We anticipate that as English language arts standards, math standards, and the language and literacy aspects of other content standards become more similar across states, so will states’ ELP standards. As a result, the ELP tests that are used by states to measure these standards will likely become more similar and will more easily lend themselves to defining comparable cross-state performance standards for “English proficient.”
With regard to improving the quality of state-provided data, there are several steps that the DoEd might explore. First, the department might consider asking states to provide documentation of the technical quality of their assessments, particularly information to document the procedures used to set the performance levels and to determine the “English proficient” level, as well as information to document the accuracy and validity of decisions based on the assessment. This type of information has been required for the English language arts and mathematics achievement tests used by the states to meet the accountability provisions of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. These requirements might also be extended to the tests used for Title III, and they would help to ensure and enhance the quality of the data that states provide on their ELL students, particularly the composite and domain-performance levels used to define the “English proficient” standard.
Second, the DoEd could continue its efforts to improve the quality, consistency, and completeness of data collected from the states on the Consolidated State Performance Reports and maintained in the Education Data Exchange Network system.
As a strategy for improving the comparability of state-provided estimates of students who are considered to be English proficient on the basis of an ELP test becomes available and is implemented—and as evidence of the quality, consistency, and completeness of state-provided data improve—the state-provided data can be accorded more weight in the allocation formula.
RECOMMENDATION 7-5 When the quality and cross-state comparability of state-provided data have reached an acceptable standard, the weight given to the state-provided counts should be adjusted upward to the point at which the American Community Survey estimates and the state-provided counts contribute equally to the 80 percent portion of the allocation formula. State-provided counts should continue to be based on the number of students who are determined not to be English proficient on the basis of the state’s English language proficiency test, in a way that is comparable across states.