« Life as an ESL Teacher | Main | School Districts That Offer Dual-Language Classes Through High School »

Researcher Proposes a 'Weighted Index' for ELLs under NCLB

| 5 Comments

David J. Francis, a psychology professor at the University of Houston and the director of the National Research and Development Center for English Language Learners, has an interesting proposal for how accountability provisions for English-language learners could be improved in reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. I hear through my sources that congressional aides have invited at least one expert on assessment of ELLs into their offices this summer to hear advice on how to reauthorize the act--but I haven't heard if they've contacted Mr. Francis about his views.

Mr. Francis proposes that the accountability system for ELLs under the NCLB Act continue to incorporate both English-language-proficiency tests and content-area tests. But he says that more weight should be given to English-language-proficiency test scores when ELLs are new to the country and don't know much English. As they spend more time in the United States and become more proficient in the language, their test scores on academic content tests should be given more weight, he says.

Mr. Francis' proposal for a change in the federal education law--along with several others proposals for change--is described in a summary of a roundtable discussion on ELLs and the NCLB Act that was hosted by the Center on Education Policy in March. The summary of the meeting was posted this summer.

July 16 update: Diane August, a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, tells me she has discussed Dr. Francis' weighted-index proposal with the staff of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Dr. Francis told me in an e-mail message that he has participated in a conference call with congressional staff on the topic of reauthorization of provisions for ELLs in NCLB.

5 Comments

Hi Mary Ann,
Given your experience in the schooling of English language learners, and learning innovations, I was wondering if you would contribute to our discussion. One of our members submitted a question about improving the US education system and battling illiteracy.
We would appreciate your insight in the form of a quick comment.

http://www.oddpodzblog.com/2007/07/question_of_the_week_no_1.html

Dear Mary Ann,

This type of approach to English Language Learners is exactly the direction appending language needs to go for NCLB Improvement Act 2007 HR 648.

Myself a first-year community college composition and remedial writing instructor, I find that some measures for improvement of 10% on a per annum basis are irrational. If studies have shown that second-language acquisition occurs over a 5-year period for K-6, and for 7-adult, a 10-year period just for minimal literacy, some demands put on high-population ESL schools are just unreachable. You can pour money into teaching efforts, but it doesn't change the biological/psychological/physiological capabilities of students. I lack the documentation and would appreciate any links to second language acquisition time frames.

The teacher is the sole person responsible for a student's performance in school. Discussing home life, psychological factors, upbringing, parental involvement are secondary ... and are the perfect excuse for the incompetent teacher.

No more excuses. You either can teach or you can't. Move on if you can't. Our kids deserve better.

ESOL students are biologically, psychologically, and physiologically prepared to acquire and learn additional languages when the schools are organized to meet address their academic needs and the teachers have adequate training. There is nothing about them or the English language that is a barrier. It is true that coming from a civil war or other violence affects learning. The acculturation process can also affect learning; but human being and children are resilient and respond well when the school environment is prepared.

Also, I wish it were so simple that the teacher is the sole person responsible for student performance. Teaching and learning is far more complicated than that.

ESOL students are biologically, psychologically, and physiologically prepared to acquire and learn additional languages when the schools are organized to address their academic needs and the teachers have adequate training. There is nothing about them or the English language that is a barrier. It is true that coming from a civil war or other violence affects learning. The acculturation process can also affect learning; but human beings and children are resilient and respond well when the school environment is prepared.

Also, I wish it were so simple that the teacher is the sole person responsible for student performance. Teaching and learning are far more complicated than that.

Comments are now closed for this post.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments