Some authorizers rely on data as a primary tool for evaluating a school’s accessibility and an EL program’s academic performance. These authorizers often establish (and given ESSA’s enrollment and academic performance expectations, perhaps will do so, even more, going forward) data reporting requirements in their authorizer policies and/or in their charter contracts.
While the specific data sought varies by authorizer, the Idaho Charter School Commission provides a compelling example of an authorizer that has chosen to pursue a comprehensive approach to data collection. The Idaho Charter School Commission requires EL data be collected and submitted annually to the state’s EL program and requires data including but not limited to the following:
- Total number of students assessed as EL with a language placement test (aka, a Home Language Survey)
- Total number of EL students served
- Progress/growth in the English language made by students enrolled in the program
- Progress/growth in the academic content area made by students enrolled in the program
- Types of language instruction educational programs implemented by the school
- Total number of certified or licensed teachers working with language instruction educational programs
- Number of paraprofessionals serving EL students in a language development program
- Number of students exited from the program each year
- Proposed changes, if any, for the subsequent year
Idaho Charter School Commission
Moreover, the Idaho Charter School Commission requires all school-level student data be compiled by gender, race/ethnicity, grade, special education services required, date placed into the LEP program, and assessment scores.
This holistic approach to EL data collection allows both the school and the authorizer to actively evaluate how well the school’s chosen EL program is working, enabling the school to identify and implement potential changes during the term of the charter contract. This real-time feedback loop is critical. Not only does it assure the school will conduct the legally required periodic evaluation of its EL Program, but, and perhaps most importantly, it will allow the school the opportunity to make targeted improvements, if needed.