Monday, March 8, 2010

Will NCLB ever make sense?

Will NCLB ever make sense

Gloria Salazar, a fifth-grade teacher in Somerville, Massachusetts, welcomed an immigrant child to her classroom last year with a No. 2 pencil. No English? No excuses, say testing advocates—he still has to take the state test.

And stop that crying already!

“It happens all the time,” Salazar laments. “And there’s no way to explain to them, ‘It’s okay, we know that you don’t understand this material.’ They see the formalities and they know it’s important.”

Important, but also impractical—how on Earth could English Language Learners succeed on a standardized test that’s administered in a language they don’t understand?

When it comes to requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, those pertaining to ELL and special needs students are particularly bewildering.

This year, as Congress prepares to reauthorize the federal education law, NEA asks that it recognize the individual needs of students, including non-fluent English speakers and those with disabilities. More than test scores should be used to measure student learning and school progress.

“I believe in assessment, but I also believe they need to recognize that children are different. We need to recognize those differences and equip educators with tools to help students improve,” Salazar said.

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