Through a notice in today's Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Education is seeking recommendations on how to develop a framework states can use to evaluate the quality of their standards and tests for English-language proficiency. The deadline for submitting recommendations is Aug. 1. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, states were required to create standards for English-language development for students who were new to the language and to come up with assessments to gauge their progress in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. English-language learners in K-12 must be tested each year in their progress in English. Last ...


For the 25th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe--which obligated public schools to enroll children regardless of their immigration status--I spent three days last month reporting in Tyler, Texas, where the case originated. The ruling was issued on June 15, 1982. I relished the opportunity to step back in history and interview residents of Tyler about their memories of the case. I talked with four residents who are natives of Mexico and, as undocumented children, were some of the plaintiffs. I also spoke with James Plyler, the former superintendent of Tyler schools, whose ...


This weekend, I lingered over a story by Tara Bahrampour in Sunday's Washington Post about the relationship between Ameer Abdalameer, an English-language learner from Iraq, and his English-as-a-second-language teacher, Felix Herrera, at Wakefield High School in Arlington County, Va., schools. "Lessons in Shared Scars of War" tells how 14-year-old Ameer left his home in Iraq because of war and how Mr. Herrera served in the Iraq war as an Army reservist. The nuances in the story--how Ameer makes verbal jabs in Mr. Herrera's presence that show the pain the boy has experienced in the war, and Mr. Herrera's reassurances that ...


Isabel Allende, David Ho, Eduardo Najera, and Orlando Patterson are immigrants whose stories are available free on DVD through the Merage Foundation for the American Dream in Newport Beach, Calif. Paul and Lilly Merage--immigrants from Iran--set up the foundation three years ago to inspire young immigrants to do well and to inform Americans about the contributions of immigrants, according to the foundation's Web site. The DVD series is accompanied by teachers' guides. The foundation is also giving awards this month to honor four other immigrants for their contributions. They are: Shirley Tilghman, the president of Princeton University; Jerry Yang, the ...


There doesn't seem to be anything really surprising in the official guidance (Word doc) that the U.S. Department of Education has released spelling out how schools should implement testing and accountability provisions for English-language learners under the No Child Left Behind Act. (Read the corresponding regulations published Sept. 13 in the Federal Register.) I picked up one detail that was new to me: the clock starts ticking as soon as English-language learners (the Education Department calls them limited-English-proficient students) enter U.S. schools for the three-year time period that they are permitted to take state tests in their native ...


Washington Post writer Maria Glod interviewed quite a few children for her story published today about how Virginia's change in testing policy for English-language learners is affecting children. She focuses on school districts that lost their battle against the U.S. Department of Education to extend the policy that was in place through the current school year. Lots of stories about education policy don't quote students, so it's refreshing to read their observations. See my earlier posts, "Virginia's Definition of Test Participation," and "Fairfax County School Officials Back Down in Testing Impasse."...


Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, aims to soon be able to give interviews in Spanish, according to an article inThe Politico, based on an interview with his private Spanish tutor. A couple of months ago Mr. Gingrich offended some Latinos by equating bilingual education with "the language of living in the ghetto," according to news reports. He later appeared in a video on YouTube in which he tried--in Spanish--to clarify his comments. See my earlier posts, "More on Newt Gingrich's Spanish Lessons," and "Newt Gingrich Offers an Apology of Sorts." At the time ...


The Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank in Arlington, Va., has published a paper that implies that some school districts in California should be reclassifying more of their English-language learners as fluent in English each year. In the 2005-2006 school year, California's school districts, on average, reclassified 9.6 percent of English-language learners as fluent, the paper states. It features case studies for several districts, including the 19,600-student Alvord Unified School District, in Riverside, Calif., where the reclassification rate in the 2005-2006 school year was 1 percent, and the 89,000-student Long Beach Unified School District, in Long Beach, ...


My last blog entry is wrong in telling what a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled regarding testing of English-language learners in California. After talking with lawyers for both sides of the case, I conclude that the article I posted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel overstates the reach of the ruling--and I distorted it further in my characterization of the article. (Matt King, the journalist who wrote the article, told me today that he wrote it based on what he took directly from the ruling in which "the judge made it very clear that he believes the state is acting ...


A San Francisco judge has ruled in a case that is being very closely watched in California that the state doesn't have to provide its standardized tests used for the No Child Left Behind Act in Spanish or languages other than English, according to an article published today in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The article notes that plaintiffs in the case, Coachella Valley Unified School District v. California, argued that California has "violated its duty to provide valid and reliable academic testing" for English-language learners. The judge disagreed. The article says it's not clear if the attorneys for the eight ...


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