Testing experts are creating a pool of test items they hope that some states eventually will use to assess English-language learners in science to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act. Rebecca Kopriva—a visiting research scholar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison—and Jim Bauman—a senior associate in language testing at the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics—are directing the project, called Obtaining Necessary Parity Through Academic Rigor, or ONPAR. It is being funded with a $1.8 million "enhanced assessment grant" from the U.S. Department of Education. The researchers have begun to write the test items,...


Read "Struggling Asians go unnoticed," published today in the Chicago Tribune, to learn more about how and why educators may not give as much attention to Asian students who struggle with English or other subjects than students from other regions of the world. For more on this topic, see "The 'Other' Gap," which my colleague Lesli Maxwell wrote for Education Week in February 2007....


Immigration is changing urban libraries in this country as well as public schools. "Welcome, Stranger: Public Libraries Build The Global Village," a report published by the Chicago-based Urban Libraries Council, tells how libraries are reaching out to immigrants by providing computer and English classes, integrating books written in foreign languages into their collections, and hiring bilingual staff members. (It takes a couple of minutes to download the 20-page report.) This report is a reminder that it's a good idea for educators to be aware of resources offered to immigrant families through their local public libraries. In Oakland, Calif., for example, ...


It's Friday, my supervisor is on spring break, and I don't have a deadline for Education Week until next Wednesday. It's a good day for me to play around with a database tool that provides state-by-state information about immigrants. The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute announced this week it had updated one of the databases in its immigration data hub with 2006 data. What I imagine is most relevant to readers of Learning the Language is the "language and education" fact sheet available from the 2006 American Community Survey/Census Data tool on the Migration Policy Institute's Web site. I found ...


The editors of Education Week got an e-mail message this week from Yvonne Watterson, an Arizona principal who was recently featured in the New York Times for becoming an advocate for her undocumented high school students. She raised funds to pay for some of her students to take college courses, given that Arizona has a new law that denies undocumented students the opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities. (See "Arizona Principal Goes into 'Advocacy Mode.' ") In her e-mail, Ms. Watterson let us know she's edited a book, Documented Dreams, containing thank you letters her students ...


Breakthrough, an international human rights organization, put out a curriculum guide this week to correspond with its free video game: "ICED: I Can End Deportation." In the game, players take on the role of one of five immigrant teens—and see what they encounter in day-to-day life. The 115-page curriculum guide, which Breakthrough says it has aligned with New York State and New York City social studies and English-language-arts standards, takes the position that current U.S. immigration laws deny due process for immigrants. The guide suggests that teachers can use the game and curriculum to teach a 10-day unit...


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 ...


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