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NCLB Outrages

Board Seeks NCLB Testing Revisions

Wouldn't it be wonderful if school boards across the country decided they don't have to hell when the Feds give the signal?

By Jeff Mellott

HARRISONBURG — The City School Board adopted a conditional resolution on Tuesday that potentially rejects the federal requirement that the Virginia Standards of Learning test is a way to measure the progress of students who don’t speak English.

Should the federal government reject Virginia’s appeals on testing requirements, Harrisonburg would allow teachers and staff to determine which students who do not speak English would take the Standards of Learning test, which is in English.

Currently, 38 percent of Harrisonburg’s students are in the English as Second Language program.

The city’s action could be the first among school divisions considering taking the move. Accepting the federal mandate, school board members said would be setting up non-English speaking students to fail.

Measuring Progress

Virginia education officials have asked the federal government to reconsider a ruling that does not allow the Stanford English Language Proficiency test to substitute for the Standards of Learning test to measure the progress of non-English speaking students.

The federal government uses the Standard of Learning test for the basis for measuring progress under No Child Left Behind.

Should the federal government reject Virginia’s appeal, city schools would continue to assess the progress of non-English speaking students, with the Stanford test, said Superintendent Donald Ford.

The proficiency test results could not be used to determine whether the student, school or division has reached the federal accountability standard of Adequate Yearly Progress.

The change in testing procedure would likely mean that the school division would not meet the federal education accountability standard, he said, which could result in school choice at the elementary level.

Portfolio Rejected

The School Board also rejected measuring student progress with a yearlong collection of the student’s work.

Harrisonburg has a record of student work because of its reading program, Ford said.

But Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Mike Loso said the state estimates it would take up to 50 hours to collect the information.

A preliminary evaluation, Loso said, shows 16 of the 240 non-English speaking students in the first two levels of the ESL program would likely meet Adequate Yearly Progress.

In addition, the board’s resolution indicates that 24 months, as requested by Virginia’s appeal to the federal government, is not sufficient to begin testing non-English speaking students who are in the beginning stages of an ESL program.

The amount of time requested by the state, Ford said, is better than the 12 months allowed by the federal government.

Research, Ford said, shows it takes five to seven years to bring a non-English speaking student up to grade level.

— Jeff Mellott
Daily News Record
2007-01-17


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