(March 27) – A bipartisan bill to rewrite Colorado’s English Language Proficiency Act passed the House Education Committee with a vote of nine to two.

HB13-1211, sponsored by Reps. John Buckner (D-Aurora) and Clarice Navarro (R-Pueblo), provides a significant increase in funding for professional development to help teachers work with English-language learners (ELLs) on all academic subjects, from chemistry to history. The current ELPA funding is provided to school districts to support kids in their first two years, primarily with English language acquisition. The bill requires school districts to support these ELLs over five years instead of two, as they are already required to do under federal law.

“Studies show four- to seven-year programs are much more successful than two-year programs,” Rep. Buckner said. “It is incredibly important that our kids learn English and develop academic proficiencies they need to be prepared to enter the workforce of a 21st-century economy.”

In addition, the bill adds several accountability measures to ensure that state funding is directed towards supporting English language learners. The bill also establishes an excellence awards program to support districts that demonstrate superior academic achievement among ELLs and share their best practices with other districts across the state.

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