What Can Be Done: Recommendations
The following are some of the main recommendations offered in the report "New Voices'' by the National Coalition of Advocates for Students.
- Time. Schools must avoid the time traps generated by lockstep assessment, placement, and instructional procedures. These children's progress should not be determined by standardized tests, but by multiple evaluation tools, including teacher observation and curriculum-based assessment.
- Appropriate Placement. Placement should be based on proficiency, not age. Assessment should occur within the first few weeks of enrollment. The evaluation should consider both oral and written English proficiency, native-language proficiency, previous schooling, and (after 2nd grade) knowledge of math and basic skills.
- Sorting Practices. Tracking is particularly unfair to poor and minority children. Schools should "detrack'' by not grouping students of similar ability together; reconstruct curriculum around ideas and themes, rather than the "scope and sequence'' approach; include cooperative learning in instruction.
- Special Education. Immigrant children are often misplaced in special-education programs. A restructuring of the bridge between regular and special education is overdue. Special-education resources should serve more children in mainstream settings; alternative service delivery systems should be developed.
- School Staffing. Teacher-training institutions should recruit from the growing immigrant pool, and retrain existing staff to assure they have the necessary bilingual and bicultural skills.
- Support Services. Immigrant children should have access to appropriate primary- and mental-health services.
- Positive Environment. Student leadership should be developed within immigrant groups. Parents should be encouraged to become involved.