Testing and ELL Students

California state appeals ruled this week that public schools can test all students in English, regardless of English language skills.  According to an article in US News & World Report, there are nearly 1.6 million students in California who have limited English speaking proficiency.  Because of No Child Left Behind, English Language Learners do receive some accommodations during testing, such as the use of dictionaries.

Click here to see how California compares to other states in percentage of English Language Learners.

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4 Responses to Testing and ELL Students

  1. While many of the US News comments related to whether children should be expected to learn English, to me the central issue in this ruling is that this decision further undermines the validity of state mandated standardized tests.

    Established to promote accountability, these tests have long been, at best, a waste of time and at worst, an impediment to education. Promoting “teaching to the test”, causing states that don’t fare well to “dumb down the tests”, limiting curriculum to exclude material not included on the tests, stifling more advanced learners who must sit in a classroom in which content for these minimal competency exams is being taught, wasting weeks of valuable instructional time, and finally this ruling, which makes the process a complete sham by including huge numbers of students who don’t have the ability to understand the directions, content or expectations.

    When will we drop the pretense and get on to the business of educating our youth?

  2. Laila says:

    I completely agree with Liz’s points. “Teaching to the test” won’t help students live thoughtful and meaningful lives, because life isn’t a multiple choice test.

    For me this ruling disregards the cultures and people that make the United States unique. TCKs repatriating to California may be hit hard by this ruling, because often it’s not a matter of English skills (grammar and vocabulary), but knowledge of American popular culture and colloquialisms. This is one reason why American students living abroad do better on the ACT than they do on the SAT (at least my friends and I did). This is because the SAT has a strong emphasis on (American) vocabulary and has indirect questions (often on American topics), while the ACT tests science and advanced math concepts. (These facts are from the Princeton Review).

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