Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) challenges the Education Dept’s rejection of Florida’s testing rules for English language learners after state lawmakers passed legislation this spring saying that ELL test results would not be immediately included in accountability measures reported to DoEd.
Scott sent a letter to Education Secy. Arne Duncan asking for a formal hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges over the federal position. That state wants to hold back reporting the ELL results until the students have had at least two years in a U.S. school. Scott argued that student should have time to adapt to a new language before facing high stakes over content.
The No Child Left Behind Act mandates that ELLs test results count after one year of instruction, not two years. DoEd rejected Florida’s request for a testing delay when the state this year applied for an extension of its NCLB waiver. DoEd approved the NCLB extension, but said it couldn’t approve the change to ELL testing.
“Local decision making and control should always supersede the wisdom of federal bureaucrats when determining the best way to educate our children,” Scott wrote. “This is especially true in Florida, where long-standing state policy is producing tremendous student success.”
Why You Should Watch: There are political implications because Scott is locked in a tough battle for re-election against former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee. And, DoEd has given time extensions on other matters through the waiver process, usually on teacher development. If successful, other states that are wrangling with DoEd over the NCLB, like Washington state, may be encouraged to take the legal route and challenge the department’s authority to mandate education policy.