English Language Proficiency Standards Aligned With Content Standards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


As federal legislation requires that English language proficiency (ELP) standards are aligned with content standards, this article addresses issues and concerns in aligning ELP standards with content standards in English language arts, mathematics, and science. It starts with a brief description of federal legislation for alignment between ELP standards and content standards along with challenges of ensuring alignment. Then, it highlights how current efforts to ensure alignment center on the language used to engage in disciplinary practices of content standards. Next, taking a perspective on ELP standards from the vantage point of content areas, the article presents a critique of ELP standards developed by the two major consortia of states, WIDA and English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21). Specifically, the critique focuses on how each consortium addresses two aspects of alignment: (a) disciplinary practices across content areas and (b) cognitive expectations across proficiency levels. Both consortia fall short in accurately reflecting disciplinary practices and maintaining consistent cognitive expectations. Lessons learned from this critique offer recommendations for the field to move forward in ensuring English learners capitalize on the opportunities and meet the demands for both content and language learning presented by content standards. As the challenges in ELP standards development lie squarely at the intersection of content and language learning, the article ends with a call to action for closer collaboration between language and content educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-327
Number of pages11
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • bilingual/bicultural
  • content analysis
  • educational policy
  • policy analysis
  • science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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