Saturday, November 28, 2020

Federal Investigations Conclude Arizona is Violating Civil Rights Act

Arizona has discriminated against students who are English language learners (ELL’s), according to two separate federal investigations.  The violations under the 1964 Civil Rights Act could lead to a loss of federal funding for education in Arizona.

Thousands of students were reclassified by the Arizona Department of Education as proficient in English though tests proved otherwise, federal investigators say.  In a second complaint, the federal departments found that the Arizona eliminated two questions from its home-language survey in 2009 which led to students who needed ELL education to not be identified.  The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice concluded that this violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funding.

Federal investigators found that the way the Arizona English Language Learner Assessment, or AZELLA, is scored, “deem students proficient in English even when they are not proficient in each language domain.”  This deprives students of the services they need to succeed since the reclassification makes them ineligible for ELL education.

If officials in Arizona do not heed the federal government’s proposal to come up with a more effective way to test and reclassify students who need special instruction in English the state may lose federal funding.

A temporary plan for English language learners would go into effect during the first semester of 2011-12 and a permanent plan during the second semester, under the government’s proposal.

The Arizona Education Department was already facing an investigation into whether it has discriminated against teachers who are not native English speakers.

AZ Central