An appeals court ruled earlier this week that three Lowell, Mass., teachers were improperly dismissed from their jobs following a district-administered English fluency test. The three teachers are non-native English speakers.
Massachusetts, in 2002, required all public school teachers of subject-matter classes to be fluent and literate in English.
The court found that the Lowell school district did not follow state regulations, which specify that teachers’ grasp of English should be evaluated through classroom observation and personal interviews.
It’s an interesting case, and I’m not sure how many other states have similar laws on the books. The “highly qualified” teacher provisions of NCLB don’t really seem to speak directly to this issue. ELL teachers must be fluent in English and demonstrate competency in the subjects they teach, but there’s not much in the federal law saying how states should ensure all their teachers are literate in English.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.