Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lunatics Take Yet Another Wing...

It's very important that ESL students take the same English tests as kids who've spoken it all their lives, say various so-called education advocates. After all, we used to give them the same IQ tests we gave English speakers. Why should they be exempt simply because they don't speak English?

“If the immigrant kids are studying English, but they can not take the regular test, how are we going to know if this program, NYSESLAT is working?” said Maria Gonzalez, an Ecuadorian mother of three schoolchildren.

It's unfortunate no one bothered to inform Ms. Gonzalez that NYCESLAT is not a program, but a test designed to measure English proficiency (and a highly flawed one at that). The writer of the article shows no evidence of having made that distinction either.

“The problem with the teachers is that they don't want to be tested. The ELA exam will test them,” said Fernando Salas, a Colombian teacher, who has two children in city public schools.

Mr. Salas, alas, knows who he wants to blame, but little about what's actually happening in this state. High school ESL students have been required to take the English Regents for years, largely at the expense of programs that could help them acquire the language. I've taught many of those courses, and I find it entirely possible to teach them how to pass the test.

Sadly, for my kids, passing the English Regents exam indicates only an ability to pass the English Regents exam (though NY State now removes them from ESL classes as a result). I aim and hit the lowest common denominator, get them to answer the questions via rigidly formulaic four-paragraph compositions, make them practice till their fingers turn blue, and they pass. The test is do or die (they can't graduate without it), and I don't have time to do anything more.

I don't delude myself that these kids will be able to make it to college without the instruction we withheld in order to spend more time teaching them how to pass the test. In college, they'll have to pay for people just like me to teach them the very same things I'd have offered in high school, and they'll receive no credit for it, as it's remedial.

This wisdom that fuels that phenomenon is now going to be replicated with elementary kids.

Thanks to Pissed Off Teacher
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