The U.S. Department of Justice and the Arizona Department of Education have settled federal allegations that the state rushed to move students out of an English language learning program.
Friday's settlement requires the state to offer reading and writing services for tens of thousands of students who were prematurely identified as fluent in English and moved out of the state's English Language Learner program.
A federal government investigation had alleged that the moves violated the students' civil rights.
Russlyn Ali of the federal education department said the resolution will help ensure Arizona students receive the education they deserve.
Arizona and the federal government reached a settlement on a separate federal complaint last year alleging the state inadequately screened students for their need for special language classes.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal released the following statement in response to the agreement.
"It is unfortunate the federal government chose to characterize this agreement as a federal enforcement action. No evidence has been presented proving Arizona incorrectly identified students as proficient in English. Any statement to the contrary is irresponsible. We are moving forward with the voluntary resolution agreement because we are confident the students identified in the agreement are already receiving intervention services to support their instructional needs. The Arizona Department of Education stands behind its assessments, and has never wavered in its commitment to provide an equal educational opportunity to students who are English Language Learners. We are confident in the validity and reliability of the AZELLA assessments used by Arizona to determine the English language proficiency of Arizona students. The Department does not accept the federal government's assertion that Arizona incorrectly identified students as proficient. In an effort to resolve this matter expediently, the department agreed to participate in this voluntary process in order to get back to the business of delivering all of Arizona's students the best education possible."
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation) contributed to this report.