February 20, 2004

Congressional Hispanic Conference Applauds New No Child Left Behind Provisions for Limited English Profieciency Students

Washington, DC -The Congressional Hispanic Conference (CHC) today applauds the new provisions for No Child Left Behind aimed at helping students with limited English Proficiency (LEP). This new policy announced by Secretary of Education Rod Paige provides flexibility for schools while ensuring accountability for LEP students.

With one-third of our nation’s Hispanic population under the age of 18 and with a high school dropout rate of 27 percent, the success of LEP students are of particular concern for the eleven-member Congressional Hispanic Conference. Eighty percent of the nation’s 5.5 million LEP students speak Spanish as their first language.

Assessing LEP students’ content knowledge in reading and other language arts during their first year of enrollment in U.S. public schools requires a more flexible approach by both teachers and students. With the support of funds provided by NCLB, states will be able to develop better assessments and accommodations for LEP students as they work to achieve full English-language proficiency.

The Congressional Hispanic Conference supports school choice, as majorities of Hispanics are forced to attend failing public schools. School choice programs compel school districts to be accountable to parents, in order to level the playing field for lower income families from racially diverse backgrounds.

A recent Pew Hispanic Center study confirms that Hispanics are strong supporters of having states set performance standards for schools and using standardized testing to measure student progress. These are two key federal requirements found within the NCLB Act, the first major piece of legislation passed by the Bush Administration.

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