SOURCE: EDUCATIONAL TESTING SERVICE

July 09, 2008 10:06 ET

New ETS Report Offers Highlights From Achievement Gap Symposium

Focus on English-Language Learners

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - July 9, 2008) - The summer issue of ETS Policy Notes, a publication of Educational Testing Service's Policy Information Center, presents highlights from the January 2008 symposium, "Addressing Achievement Gaps: The Language Acquisition and Educational Achievement of English-Language Learners."

Co-sponsored by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, ETS's eighth Achievement Gap Symposium provided a forum for more than 300 educators, policymakers and researchers to discuss and advance their efforts to improve the educational achievement of this country's more than 5 million English-language learners (ELLs).

ELLs are the fastest growing population in U.S. public schools. Since the 1995-1996 school year, ELL enrollment has increased 57 percent, compared with less than 4 percent for all students. As a result, educators are searching for tools and strategies to improve ELL achievement.

"We're no longer talking about dealing with a minority part of our population," ETS President and CEO Kurt Landgraf says. "We are in fact talking about the part of the population that is very quickly becoming the majority part of our K-12 student cohort."

The statistics are staggering:

--  In 2004-2005, approximately 5.1 million students, or 10.5 percent of
    the U.S. student population, were ELLs
--  Approximately 79 percent of ELLs have Spanish-language backgrounds
--  Arizona, California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois contain 61
    percent of the nation's ELL population
--  Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina
    and Tennessee experienced an ELL growth rate of 300 percent or higher
    between 1995-2005
    

NCLR Vice President of Education Delia Pompa notes that the issues surrounding the instruction of ELLs are extremely relevant today as Congress considers reauthorizing NCLB. "Twenty years ago, the fight was to make sure bilingual education didn't get eliminated and that services for ELL and immigrant students stayed alive. It is amazing that today, in 2008, we're hearing many of the same questions and concerns surrounding ELL achievement gaps and they still haven't been answered." Pompa adds, "We need to figure out how to include ELLs in assessment and adequate yearly progress calculations because all students deserve a quality education."

The summer issue of ETS Policy Notes highlights the following issues addressed at the conference:

--  Historical and contemporary perspectives on the challenges and
    opportunities faced by the ELL population and information on important
    demographic trends
--  Discussion of the importance of preschool education in the literacy
    development of ELLs
--  Data on achievement gap trends among ELLs
--  Information on promising teaching and learning strategies for ELLs
--  Discussion of important issues related to the assessment of ELLs
--  Addressing the issues faced by ELLs with special learning needs
--  Identification of innovative policies to help teachers work with ELLs
    

Download the complete summer issue of ETS Policy Notes for free at www.ets.org/achievementgap08. Free print copies, while supplies last, are available from the Policy Information Center, ETS, MS 19-R, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001; by calling (609) 734-5949; or by sending an e-mail to pic@ets.org.

About ETS

ETS is a nonprofit institution with the mission to advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research, and related services for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. Founded in 1947, ETS today develops, administers, and scores more than 50 million tests annually, in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. Additional information is available at www.ets.org.

Contact Information