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Crystal Greene, 503-947-5650

November 5, 2012

Multi-state Partnership Wins Grant to Design English Proficiency Test

Feds award Oregon-led consortium $6.3 million to build 21st century test for language learners

(Salem, Ore.)
– In late September, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $6.3 million to a consortium of 13 states to fund the development of English Language Proficiency assessments. The thirteen states in the consortium are: Arkansas, California, Florida, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia. Oregon is serving as the lead state in the consortium. The new assessments will align to common English Language Proficiency Standards that correspond to the Common Core State Standards.

“Our state has made a real commitment to college and career readiness through the adoption of the Common Core State Standards,” said Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “It is our responsibility to ensure that all of our students – regardless of the language they speak at home – receive the rigorous instruction, targeted supports, and timely feedback that will help them get there. We are proud to help lead this effort to develop better and more rigorous standards and assessments for our English Language Learners.”

States around the country have adopted the rigorous, shared expectations of the Common Core to help prepare students for success after high school. With this grant, the consortium states are taking that work to the next level with the adoption of common instructional standards and the creation of common English language proficiency assessments. Grant funds will enable the states to design an upgraded, more rigorous test that will provide better information about how well schools and districts are teaching English to non-native speakers. This will also help ensure that English Language Learners are receiving rigorous and effective instruction and that schools are held accountable for preparing these students for college and career.

“The opportunity to ensure our English Language Proficiency standards are well aligned with the Common Core State Standards is a vital step toward equitable education opportunities for all students,” said Heidi Sipe, Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Educational Improvement and Innovation. "Too many of our English Language Learners are caught in the achievement gap and are not graduating with the skills they need to thrive. This grant gives us, and our partner states, a chance to redesign how and what we are teaching to better meet our students’ needs.”

The assessment development process will build upon the ideas, resources, and contributions of all member states to create 21st century assessments that better serve students and schools. The new English mastery test will be developed over the coming years and will be used in each of the partner states starting in the 2016-17 school year.

“This consortium represents a unique collection of states, all of whom bring valuable insights, perspectives, and resources,” said Doug Kosty, Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Assessment and Information Services. “We are excited to start this important work and are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for providing the funding to make it possible.”

Oregon, as the lead state in the consortium, is currently working with the U.S. Department of Education to meet the conditions of the grant award. The federal grant funds the development of a common English language proficiency test. The test will be built on English language proficiency standards that are being developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Stanford University’s Understanding Language. The development of the standards on which the test will be based are being funded separately. CCSSO and Stanford expect an initial draft of these standards in January 2013. Planning for the development of the common assessments has already begun.

Rob Saxton , Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction
Crystal Greene, ODE Communications, Telephone (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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