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Toward a “Common Definition of English Learner”

Publication dateFebruary 2013
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States participating in the Smarter Balanced or Partnership for Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) assessment consortia as well as those participating in either of the two English language proficiency assessment consortia are required to establish a "common definition of English Learner." Each state having a definition of English learner that agrees with the definition adopted by the consortia is clearly desirable, yet presents substantial challenges that will call for a carefully coordinated, multiyear effort within and across consortia member states.

Changing a state definition of English learner will require states to consider policy and regulations, which implies potential legislative or state board of education action. This document defines key issues states will face as they work towards developing a common definition of English learner (EL)-a critical step to ensuring that all of our nation's students succeed in college and careers.