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August 15th, 2013
Reps. Grijalva, Miller Write to Department of Education Urging Immediate Steps to Remedy Lack of English Language Learner Data

Washington, D.C. – Reps. George Miller and Raúl M. Grijalva today sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urging him to collect data on English Language Learner (ELL) enrollment in charter schools, which have grown in popularity around the country in recent years. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report – available at – found that many charter schools are not reporting such data, calling into question whether they meet current standards of educational quality and accessibility.

GAO experts and the Department of Education have found significant gaps in some charter school reporting on student performance data, including reading and math proficiency rates and graduation rates for all students. 

Miller and Grijalva recently asked the GAO to examine how enrollment levels of ELLs in charter schools compare to traditional public schools. The GAO was unable to conduct the study due to data quality issues, saying that several factors – including lack of reporting and definitional issues – may account for the gaps in charter school data collection and student performance evaluation.

The failure of public charter schools to submit school-level data can affect the validity of state and local educational agency enrollment figures, which the Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires to be collected.

In today’s letter – available at – Miller and Grijalva wrote: “It is imperative that the Department have reliable and accurate data for all public schools, local education agencies, and states in fulfilling our mission to equitably serve all children and families.  All public schools must be treated equally, with respect to federal funding received and student populations served, not based on school type or reform priority.”

Some charter schools provide students with a rigorous education and present innovative education approaches. However, they seem not to be serving several unique student populations, including English Language Learners.

Additionally, GAO found that:

·       37 percent of charter schools in the 2010-2011 school year had blank answers to survey questions aimed at assessing ELL enrollment.

·       For the 2010-2011 school year, between 80 and 100 percent of charter schools in five states did not report ELL enrollment.

In addition to today’s letter to Secretary Duncan, Miller and Grijalva wrote to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools – both of which you can read at – urging members to work in partnership with the Department of Education and other education stakeholders to improve charter school reporting on ELL enrollment and school performance.

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