Teacher Critiques Testing of ELLs in New York State

By Mary Ann Zehr — June 28, 2007 1 min read
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They’re not “new” any more, but under the “What’s New” section of the Institute for Language and Education Policy site are two videos produced by a teacher decrying how New York state was required by the U.S. Department of Education to stop using its English-language-proficiency test instead of the regular reading test for some English-language learners. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Virginia was also required to make the same change in testing policy.

Cristian Solorza, who says on one of the videos that he is a native of Argentina and a dual-language teacher in the state, doesn’t think it’s fair that English-language learners have to take New York’s regular reading test after they’ve been in the country for only one year. He believes it takes them five years to acquire the English skills that would give them a fair chance to do well on the test. He says he’s “having some difficulty with the accountability portion of the formula” for ELLs under the No Child Left Behind Act.

“No Child Left Bilingual Part I” was created in January and previews the change in testing policy, and “No Child Left Bilingual Part II” was produced in March and relays how students fared with the switch in tests used. Though the videos present only one side of the debate, they contain catchy commentary, and I got the impression that Mr. Solorza reads widely about education policy affecting English-language learners.

June 29 update: Mr. Solorza sent me an e-mail message noting that last September he left teaching and became an instructor in the dual-language department of the graduate school of Bank Street College of Education in New York City. He is an adviser to dual-language students and teaches courses in language acquisition, bilingual curriculum, and dual-language literacy.

July 2 update: I just found a press release from the New York Board of Regents from May saying that despite the change in testing policy of ELLs in New York state, “the performance of ELL students [in grades 3-8] dipped only modestly in each grade, a better result than many predicted.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.