A Spanish-speaking student or parent in Springdale, Ark., might tune into a local Spanish radio station or watch a local program on Univision these days and hear a public service announcement emphasizing the importance of state standardized tests. The 16,500-student Springdale school district has created such a public service announcement to try to motivate Spanish-speaking students to do better on state tests, according to a March 13 article in the Arkanas Democrat.
The article tells how 17 out of 22 Springdale schools failed to meet federal testing standards (otherwise known as “adequate yearly progress” goals) last spring on state tests. The reason, according to Jim Rollins, the superindentent for the Springdale school district, is that state policy changed so that all English-language learners who had been in U.S. schools for at least a year had to take the regular state tests. Previously, the superintendent said, they completed projects to document their learning.
I believe the superintendent is referring to the fact that Arkansas was required by the U.S. Department of Education to stop using portfolio tests instead of regular state tests for some English-language learners, which I wrote about in Education Week in November 2006.
I suppose a public service announcement broadcast through local Spanish media won’t hurt, but I’m suspecting it will take something more—perhaps another change in testing policy that gives a break to ELLs who are new to English, or a change in the delivery of instruction—for all Springdale schools to meet adequate yearly progress goals.
See my earlier post, “Demographic Tidbit,” on how the region surrounding Springdale, Ark., and the neighboring cities of Fayetteville and Rogers has the country’s fastest-growing Hispanic student enrollment.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.