Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Spellings Report: N.C.L.B. and L.E.P.s

Once again, those helpful Washington EduCrats of The Royal House of Spellings are promising to do something to "assist" those of us who actually do work with children in the classroom. This time around, the targets students that have drawn of the attention of Washington's ivory-tower-wouldn't-go-near-a-real-classroom-on-a-bet-non-teaching-teaching-experts are limited English-proficient students. (L.E.P.s)
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced a partnership with states to improve and develop fair and accurate testing designed for limited English proficient (LEP) students.

"The goal of No Child Left Behind is to give every child in America a great education and a successful start in life. This new initiative will increase the visibility of limited English proficient students and enable schools to more accurately measure their progress," Spellings said. "The 5.4 million LEP students in U.S. schools are our fastest-growing student population and are expected to make up one out of every four students by 2025. Our schools must be prepared to measure what English language learners know and teach them effectively."

Testing is the lynchpin of the No Child Left Behind Act, created to bring every child to grade level in reading and math by 2014. The best tools for this effort are valid and reliable content-based assessments in every state. The U.S. Department of Education will bring together experts from around the country to help states address the challenges of developing high-quality assessments for LEP students. The LEP Partnership with states will improve accommodations and content assessments in reading and mathematics for LEP students.

The Department is immediately inviting approximately 20 states to participate in intensive work on these assessments, but all states are welcome to participate in the LEP Partnership. These states submitted evidence for the Department's 2005-06 peer review of state assessment systems, focused on tests tailored to LEP students. In most cases the tests designed for LEP students have not yet met with full approval under NCLB.
Get the government-issued fact sheet about this program here.

Frankly, what has always bothered me about NCLB and limited English-proficient students is how the Dept. of Education begins factoring-in these students' standardized test scores after they've been in American schools one year. (That's a total of one year in any public school or combination of public schools.)

This is true even for children who have recently immigrated to this country and know no English whatsoever.

How can schools, (Which have their hands full getting 100% of native English-speakers to grade-level proficiency as mandated by the federal government.) possibly have a realistic chance to get any (much less 100%) given limited-English student to grade-level proficiency in reading English and working Math problems in English after only one year?

And yet Washington has saddled those schools that serve large populations of L.E.P. students with this unrealistic expectation.

But then again, it's easy for distant EduCrats to hold those of us who work in classrooms accountable for student performance when they themselves would never go near a public school classroom on a bet.
See our latest eduposts right here.