« How's Your Program for ELLs Doing? | Main | Summit on Latino Students »

How Long Should ELLs Be Allowed to Take Tests in Native Languages?

William McKenzie, a columnist for The Dallas Morning News, wrote a commentary this week that's worth pondering over. He takes the same position that U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has taken that it's simply "too long" to permit English-language learners to take tests in their native languages for five to seven years. (See "Secretary Spellings Criticizes ELL Proposals.")

The "discussion draft" released by the House Education and Labor Committee for a reauthorized No Child Left Behind Act proposes that schools be permitted to give ELLs state tests in their native languages for five years—up from the three years currently in the law—with the possibility of extending that time by two years on a case-by-case basis.

Mr. McKenzie says five to seven years is "way too long." He says the proposal "just doesn't pass the smell test."

But neither Mr. McKenzie nor Ms. Spellings have backed up their views with research or case studies from schools that explain or illustrate why letting children take tests in their native languages for a possible seven years is "too long."

I delved into this question a bit in a previous post, "Is English Learning Slowed Down with Bilingual Education?" As this issue heats up, I welcome further insights from readers.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments