Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 3, 20172min330

English-language learners in elementary school should be able to prove their reading skills in one language — the one in which they are being taught — rather than have to test in two languages as is sometimes now the case. That’s the gist of House Bill 1160, bipartisan legislation that won unanimous approval this morning in the state House.

The proposal is the handiwork of two Democrats — Rep. Millie Hamner of Dillon and Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora — and two Republicans: Rep. Jim Wilson of Salida and Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson.

Lawmakers lauded the vote in a press release from the House Democrats:

“This test is meant to demonstrate how well a student can read, and when it’s given to students in their language of instruction, it gives us better indicators of reading ability and gives teachers the information they need to help their students improve,” said Rep. Hamner. “This bill cuts testing time and increases instructional time for the very students who need it.”

“It was great to work with Rep. Hamner on this bill,” said Rep. Wilson. “It simplifies the process to answer two critical questions: one, can you read? And two, how well?”

As the press release also explains:

Currently, although the purpose is to evaluate reading ability and not language proficiency, some students are required to take their annual reading assessment in both Spanish and English. Double testing these students unnecessarily overburdens a specific subgroup of students, risks misidentifying English learners as having significant reading deficiencies, and is not aligned with other state assessment policies.

The measure now heads to the state Senate, where it presumably will get favorable treatment, as well.