A number of states have created policies that tell school districts how to apply test scores from English-language-proficiency tests when deciding if English-language learners should leave special programs. States developed new English-proficiency tests, which measure students' progress in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. The tests are also intended to assess students' knowledge of "academic English"—the language of school. Read about the new wave of state policies in "States Seeking Proper Balance in Use of ELL Test Scores," which I wrote for this week's issue of Education Week....


The Orlando Sentinel ran an article this week, "Immigrants want to blend in, keep mother tongue," that touches on some big-picture issues concerning language policy in this country. The United States has never made English its official language, although 30 states have, it says. It tells some personal stories of immigrants or children of immigrants who want to blend in with U.S. society by speaking English yet also want to keep their language and culture....


I'm always interested in how speakers of languages other than English are keeping those languages alive, since the pressure to use English in this country often overshadows efforts to help people maintain their native languages. The Minnesota Humanities Center, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is one source of funding for projects to revitalize indigenous languages and culture in Minnesota. The center recently announced $5,000 grants to six different educational projects. The projects are expected to produce an illustrated alphabet book in Dakota, a children's book written in Ojibwe and Dakota featuring an elder who ...


"How serious are you about leaving your beautiful Puerto Rico and moving to the U.S.?" a recruiter from the Boston public school system asks a Puerto Rican teacher being wooed to work in Boston, according to a March 18 Boston Globe article. "Don't do it," I protested internally, as I read this article about how Nydia Mendez, director of programs for English-language learners for the Boston school system, and others recently visited Puerto Rico to recruit bilingual teachers. I was thinking of a moment when I visited Boston and stood on an elevated platform in winter, waiting for a ...


Over at the ELL Advocates blog, Stephen Krashen tried to poke a hole in claims reported in an article in the Oregonian that new methods for teaching English-language learners in Oregon resulted in higher test scores on the state's English-language-proficiency test last school year than in the previous school year. Mr. Krashen is a professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, who frequently comments publicly on shortcomings he perceives in journalists' reporting on ELLs. Mr. Krashen read on the Oregon department of education Web site that the state had recently standardized its testing of English ...


South Dakota has become the 17th state to decide to adopt ACCESS for ELLs, which is being used by more states than any other English-language-proficiency test to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act's requirement that schools test ELLs every year in their progress in English. The test is designed to assess ELLs in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and was created by the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment, or WIDA, consortium. WIDA was formed for the purpose of developing English-language-development standards and a test aligned with them. The previous generation of English-language-proficiency tests typically only assessed listening ...


A Spanish-speaking student or parent in Springdale, Ark., might tune into a local Spanish radio station or watch a local program on Univision these days and hear a public service announcement emphasizing the importance of state standardized tests. The 16,500-student Springdale school district has created such a public service announcement to try to motivate Spanish-speaking students to do better on state tests, according to a March 13 article in the Arkanas Democrat. The article tells how 17 out of 22 Springdale schools failed to meet federal testing standards (otherwise known as "adequate yearly progress" goals) last spring on state ...


Yvonne Watterson, a principal of an early-college high school in Phoenix, fought for her students who lacked residency and citizenship papers in the United States to continue to take college classes. The Arizona statute, Proposition 300, discontinued the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. And some of the high school students in Ms. Watterson's school who were taking college courses fell into that category as well. Read more in the story that Samuel G. Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, has written about Ms. Watterson that was published March 12 ...


I know at least one person here in the nation's capital who follows issues concerning English-language learners and at times has been as persistent as I have been in bugging the U.S. Department of Education for information: Don Soifer, the executive vice president for the Lexington Institute, in Arlington, Va., a conservative think tank. Both Mr. Soifer and I have noticed that the Education Department has so far taken one extra year to prepare a two-year evaluation of programs for English-language learners than it took to prepare its previous evaluation on such programs. The two-year report to the U.S....


An author of a letter to the editor of the Daily Herald published today contends that some school districts in Illinois are fulfilling the state's mandate to provide bilingual education by hiring Spanish-speaking teachers who aren't fluent in English nor certified to teach. She says Illinois should provide flexibility for schools to choose the method to teach English-language learners. I came across the letter over at TESOL in the News Blog. Someone called VLN, who apparently favors the mandate, writes in the comment section below the letter: "It's not just about learning English. It's about preserving their native language and ...


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