Issues in the Development of Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) for WIDA Consortium States

This Research Brief summarizes a study conducted by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research examining Annual Measureable Achievement Objectives criteria. It provides guidance to WIDA consortium states on setting AMAOs, focusing on AMAO 1 and 2. This research draws much of its direction from Linquanti and George (2007). The author concludes that setting AMAO policies without understanding how second language learning occurs is fraught with problems. Demanding that students or language programs “move students along,” in some cases, belies the very nature of language learning and is unreasonable and unrealistic.  The converse is also true; student growth expectations could be set abysmally low, so low in fact that students would be permitted to take inordinately long to learn English.

Content Comments 

This brief provides very applicable, research-based guidance for state and district decision-makers around determining English language proficiency and setting annual measurable achievement objectives for their English learner students. This is a follow-up on two previous reports sponsored by WIDA to analyze English Language students’ growth profiles based on state level data. The initial results from three states: Alaska, Maine, and Vermont have been augmented by two additional years of data from the original three states as well as two years of data from nine additional states. This resource provides strong research basis, resulting in valid, reliable (across three years and nine states), and defensible advice. It is written as a technical paper but aimed at policymakers and state- and district-level instructional leads who are determining annual measurable achievement objectives for their EL students. This brief provides strong research background, but it is not as “user-friendly” for the SEA/LEA instructional staff. Graphics are pulled straight from statistical analysis package outputs and are not as easy to read in a narrative report.