Immigrant advocates file lawsuit to change MCAS test
March 22, 2004
BOSTON - Immigrant advocates say the MCAS test is unfair to Spanish-speaking students because it is administered in English, and they are taking their case to court.
``If a student has been in the country for only one year, he or she deserves an exam with a level of English that corresponds to a person who has only been in the States for one year,'' said Janet Lopez, a Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy Coalition lawyer.
This week, lawyers for META, which filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court, will present their case before Judge Margot Botsford.
META has offered a solution: Give a Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam that will evaluate different subjects, such as history and math, in Spanish, and then an additional exam to evaluate the student's level of English.
Students may now take the math section of the MCAS in Spanish. That opportunity, along with a trial test the state Department of Education is considering for students who are English learners, are two ways to help immigrant students, Jen Grieci, chairman of the high school's bilingual and Education as a second language program at Framingham High School, told the MetroWest Daily News.
High school students must pass the MCAS to receive a diploma.
Last fall, nine of 27 English-as-a-second-language students at Framingham High passed the English MCAS. The students who failed, all 11th- and 12th-graders, had been in the United States at least three years, Grieci said.
Last spring, 20 ESL students from Framingham public schools failed or received a warning on their 10th-grade English MCAS.
Gesy Rosa, 20, a Framingham High senior from Guatemala, has spent the last two weeks waiting to see if she has passed the MCAS, which she took for the fourth time at the beginning of March.
``I could not understand the questions,'' she told the newspaper. ``I did understand the meaning. They were very complicated.
Gen Grieci was misquoted. Of course she said, "The students who did not pass, all 11th and 12th graders, had been in the United States LESS THAN three years." Also, the name of our department at Framingham High School is: Bilingual and English as a Second Language Programs NOT Bilingual and Education as a second language
Bilingual, ESL, and Sheltered English Programs FPS