By STACI HUPP and GUNNAR OLSON
A Storm Lake teenager was suspended from school this week because she refused to take a test for students who are not fluent in English.
Lori Phanachone, the U.S.-born daughter of immigrants from Laos, says she proved her grasp of English in other ways. The Storm Lake High School senior has a near-perfect grade-point average and acceptance letters from two Iowa colleges.
But because she listed Lao as her first language on a school registration form, Phanachone said administrators forced her to take a test for students who lack basic English skills.
"I'm all for help where it's needed, but for you to generalize everyone who speaks a second language, that's so degrading," said Phanachone, 18, who also might miss her school prom and track season.
Teachers have been suspended in other states for giving in to immigrant parents who refuse the tests on behalf of their children. But national officials say Phanachone's refusal is rare.
"It illustrates the fixation on testing in which school bureaucrats believe the test score is more important than real performance," said Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which opposes standardized testing.
Storm Lake school officials say their hands are tied. . . .
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Hands Tied or Brains Locked: More Testing Insanity
What happens at testing time to a top notch U. S. born high school student who lists her first language as Lao? The story from the Des Moines Register: