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NCLB Outrages

Schools to Test Students Who Have English as Second Language

Ohanian Comment: Why would students not proficient in English have to take two big tests (in English)? Spell the answer NCLB.

Students who are native speakers of languages other than English in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire will soon begin taking a new standardized test designed to prove their understanding of English is improving.

The new test has five levels, and a student must eventually pass all five to be considered proficient. Maine will assess about 3,200 students from kindergarten through grade 12, New Hampshire about 3,500, and Vermont about 1,200.

Students assessed will include the children of immigrants, adopted children and the children of foreign workers.

Christine Noon, a New Hampshire Department of Education consultant for English as a second language, said the test will monitor student progress toward meeting education requirements adopted throughout New England.

"We really needed something that aligned with academic standards," Noon said. "This is one test that is based on standards. It's not like the standards have been retrofitted to the test."

The test was designed by a 10-state consortium and has oral and written components. It will be administered this spring in Maine, Vermont and Alabama. New Hampshire education officials will administer the test in 2006.

If too few students improve, a school could lose federal money, be forced to notify parents about the failure and even be forced to allow students to enroll elsewhere, said Barney Berube with the Maine Department of Education.

Most schools already are required to use their own assessments to judge how well students are learning English. But since the federal No Child Left Behind Act was signed in 2002, such schools have been held accountable for those results.

The new test won't replace the other standardized tests given to Maine students, which means some students might take several large, yearly exams.

That much testing concerns Janice Plourde, Lewiston's curriculum coordinator.

"I think it's too much for one group of kids," Plourde said. "After they've gone through all the rest, they're going to do this."

But Michael Hock, testing director for the Vermont Department of Education, said the testing will help improve the services provided those very students.

"We haven't had much good data in the past to be able to determine whether those students are making progress," Hock said. "We're hoping that this will provide information on individual students."


— Associated Press
Boston Globe


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