Testing Accommodations for English Language Learners: A Review of State and District Policies

Young, John; King, Teresa
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-08-48, CBR-2008-06
Document Type:
Subject/Key Words:
ELL identification No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act limited English proficient (LEP) state assessment systems accountability large-scale assessments


This report is a review and summary of current information regarding testing accommodations currently used in different states and districts for English language learners (ELLs). The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 requires the inclusion of ELLs in assessments used by the states for accountability purposes. This represents a federal education requirement that did not exist prior to the enactment of NCLB. However, the policies for identification and reclassification of ELLs, appropriate testing accommodations, and testing requirements are state-level decisions. In order to validly and fairly assess the skills of ELL students, testing accommodations are made available where necessary by the states. However, there is no common set of standards across the states as to what are appropriate accommodations permitted for ELLs. Similarities and differences among states regarding ELL testing accommodations are documented in this review. Special attention is given to the ELL accommodation policies for states with high school exit examinations because these are the high-stakes exams, which have the clearest relevance in designing accommodation policies for ELLs in taking the SAT®.

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