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NYIC and Internationals Network for Public Schools Release Joint Comments on the New York State Education Department’s Request for Waiver

NYIC and Internationals Network for Public Schools Release Joint Comments on the New York State Education Department’s Request for Waiver

Monday, January 27, 2014

Following are joint comments on Amendments 5 and 6 from Internationals Network for Public Schools and the New York Immigration Coalition.

Comment on Amendment 5:Testing for English language learners

Internationals Network for Public Schools and the New York Immigration Coalition commend the New York State Board of Regents and New York State Education Department for recognizing the distinct challenges that newly arrived English language learners (ELLs) face on State tests. We are very pleased that the State is seeking this waiver to address some of the concerns we have raised throughout recent years regarding the impact of standardized tests on the assessment of English language learners. We support both goals of the waiver: 1) to exempt newly arrived ELLs from participating in the ELA assessments for two years and 2) to create Spanish Language Arts assessments and allow districts to offer this assessment as a local option. While the two-year time period for the ELA exemption for newly arrived ELLs is not sufficient, and four years, with teacher discretion to extend, is much more consistent with what research has shown to be the lower limit of the average rates of English language acquisition, we understand that New York is working within the constraints of a federal process. Given ELLs’ “limited ability to demonstrate what they know and can do on the English Language Arts assessments, even with accommodations” as the State has recognized, and that more than one in three ELLs in the State speaks a language other than Spanish, we strongly advocate for the development of Native Language Arts assessments in languages other than Spanish.  We would also ask the state to consider developing performance assessments for ELLs as an alternative and more appropriate tool.

Comment on Amendment 6: Developing a Performance Index for Newly Arrived English language learners

 Internationals Network for Public Schools and the New York Immigration Coalition commend the New York State Board of Regents and New York State Education Department for recognizing the importance of a differentiated Performance Index for ELLs based on their level of language proficiency and the most appropriate measure of their language arts proficiency.  We recommend that the number of years a student has received ESL/Bilingual services and whether the student has interrupted formal education also be factored into the indices developed for the performance Index for newly arrived ELLs in their first two years in the United States and for those taking the Spanish Language Arts assessment. We would note that these measures should apply in grades 3 – 8 only, since in high school, the one language arts assessment that remains in effect for ELLs and all students is the ELA Regents.  To our knowledge NYSED is not planning to change the Language Assessment for High School, which is also a graduation requirement.  We would oppose adding additional performance indices for ELA for ELLs in High School under the current exam structure.

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