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ELL student grading bill advances with change

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

A bill to keep non-English speaking K-12 students’ test scores from immediately impacting the grades assigned to schools is closer to a final vote.

Senate Bill 170 was amended in the House Education Policy Committee on Wednesday to say English language learners’ test scores “may not be considered in assigning an academic achievement grade to a school or school system for the first five years of enrollment of the student.”

Supporters of the bill say schools with large ELL populations are unfairly impacted in the state’s annual assignment of letter grades that are meant to give the public an apples-to-apples comparison of schools.

Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, said ELL students will still be represented in other portions of the report card requirements, including attendance and their individual learning gains, but not on standardized testing.

“They will not be included on the part where they take a test that they can’t not read,” Kiel said. The original bill by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said ELL students’ tests would not be factored for three years. Kiel amended that to five years.

The bill now goes to the House and will then need another vote in the Senate.

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