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Colorado schools could face bill for English tests under federal law

DENVER Colorado's school districts might be facing a $1.8 million bill to cover the cost of a new English-language proficiency test required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, state officials said.

The Colorado English Language Assessment will replace three different assessment tests that districts had been allowed to choose from to measure non-native speakers' progress in learning English. The federal law requires all states to use one common assessment test by 2006, but it doesn't specify how those tests will be paid for.

In Colorado, the new test is expected to be given to an estimated 92,000 English-language learners in spring 2006.

There is some confusion among school districts about how the tests will be funded.

At Aurora Public Schools, where about 35 percent of the district's 32,000 students are non-native English speakers, officials expected the state to pay for the tests, said district spokeswoman Georgia Duran.

Karen Stroup, chief of staff for the state Education Department, said while many districts believe the state would pay the costs, she said districts will have to cover the costs the same way they always have: using state and federal funding they're already receiving.

She acknowledged it was an "underfunded area."

The new test will allow the state to analyze patterns across school districts, said Frank Davila, director of the Colorado English Acquisition Unit. In the past, there was no way for the state to see trends across districts, he said.

— Associated Press
Daily Sentinel


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