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[Susan notes: The author of this fine letter is the Executive Director of Internationals Network for Public Schools. She reminds us that there is a crisis of testing push outs of English Language Learners. Note my use of push out. We should abolish the word drop out. These young people don't wake up one morning thinking, "I guess I'll drop out today." They are systematically pushed out by a system that denigrates them with abusive testing policies.]

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To the editor

Fourth grade students from language minority communities are not the only ones who face serious impediments to their educational progress from unfair high stakes standardized tests. (Op-Ed, Failing Our Students, Evangeline Harris Stefanakis, January 8, 2006). All high school students must take Regents exams. Not surprisingly, there is a resulting dropout crisis; more than half of New York City's English Language Learners drop out. In contrast, CUNY Graduate Center researchers found that at International High Schools, small public high schools serving recent immigrants, 88.7% of students graduate.

The success of English language learners is more accurately demonstrated by multiple assessments. Indeed, all International High Schools use portfolio assessment in addition to standardized tests. Our schools have developed a strong, standards based portfolio system, refined over more than a decade of implementation. Graduates repeatedly cite the writing requirements of portfolio projects as strong preparation for college research papers and other college level work.

It is time for the State Education Commissioner to develop fair and appropriate policies that meet the needs of English language learners to address the growing high school dropout crisis.

Claire E. Sylvan, Ed.D.

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