As Congress prepares to debate renewal of the five-year-old federal law, controversy has emerged over how to measure the progress of children learning English. The federal government objected last year to the way Virginia and 17 other states test limited-English students. Often, federal officials indicated, the state tests for such students were not demanding enough. They said that all students in a given state must be held to the same standards.
"It's important students enrolled in our schools are properly assessed, and that includes limited-English-proficient students," Chad Colby, an Education Department spokesman, said yesterday. "With testing, we have more data. So policymakers and educators at every level will have more information to make sure students who need more help get it."The transparency of this plan for manufactured failure and the bankruptcy of Colby's argument would be laughable if it were not for the fact that children, schools, parents, and teachers are suffering as a result. Does Colby really believe the American people are so stupid as to think that "more data" does anything to change the fact that poor children who recently arrived from another country are being commanded to perform at the same level as middle-class children who have lived here all their lives? Can "more data" allow us to see how inhumane this practice is? Did we ever need "more data" to know what any sane person would know without "more data?" Does "more data" bring these children any closer to becoming literate in the language they are being tested in that they cannot speak? Are there any additional resources for these children, besides what has been guaranteed to the unaccountable tutoring corporations who don't even have to hire teachers, highly-qualified or otherwise?