Florida can move forward with successful student-focused policy for English Language Learners

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the U.S. Department of Education has approved Governor Rick Scott and Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart’s request to continue with its state accountability policy that has been successful for years. With input from school leaders and parents, the Department of Education this summer proposed an Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility waiver with a provision that test scores of English Language Learners would only be included after they have been enrolled in a U.S. school for two years.

Governor Scott said, “I am grateful Secretary Arne Duncan did the right thing and reversed course by granting Florida’s waiver that will allow our English Language Learners to be fairly evaluated as part of our accountability system. Florida is a great melting pot and we celebrate the diversity in our state, and we will remain dedicated to ensuring federal oversight does not inhibit Florida’s ability to lead the nation in student achievement. Our students have made incredible gains over the last three and half years and it is Florida teachers and education leaders who best understand the needs of our students. We are working every day to make Florida the global destination for jobs, and the best way to build a great career is through a quality education.”

When the federal government denied Florida’s measure this summer, Governor Scott and Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart sent U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan a letter requesting that the agency withdraw the denial of Florida’s request within 30 days.

Commissioner Pam Stewart said, “Florida is a national leader in educating English Language Learners, and we are proud that Florida boasts an outstanding track record of effectively using this policy, which holds schools accountable to high standards. Our teachers and schools have made significant strides closing the achievement gap for English Language Learners, and it is critical that we stay on the trajectory that has yielded excellent results. We appreciate the federal agency providing this flexibility.”

Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said, “After two years of strong advocacy, today’s announcement recalibrates federal policy bringing reason, respect, and fairness to one of the most fragile groups of students anywhere in America, English Language Learners. Secretary Duncan’s and Governor Scott’s support of good public policy alongside the voice of educators and parents alike is recognized and appreciated.”


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