20 states to get help testing English-learning students
The Bush administration will work with a group of 20 states to develop more accurate ways of testing students who speak foreign languages and have limited English skills, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said.
The Government Accountability Office, in a report Wednesday, said it found states aren't testing the 5 million U.S. children who speak Spanish and other foreign languages "in a valid and reliable manner," as required by the No Child Left Behind law.
"We've learned some things about the progress we're making on implementation, what the soft spots are, and what states really are needing help, guidance and additional technical assistance" to carry out the law, Spellings said.
Neither U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.,, nor state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne knew if Arizona was one of the 20 states invited by Spellings to attend the conference, scheduled Aug. 28-29 in Washington, D.C. Another meeting is scheduled to be held in October.
The law, introduced in 2002, requires annual testing in such subjects as math and reading. Districts failing to show improvement face penalties that initially include granting students the right to transfer to other schools and eventually could include the replacement of school management.
Possible ways of solving the problem identified by some states include conducting the tests in Spanish or other foreign languages, providing tests written in "more simple language," or giving students accommodations such as dictionaries, she said.
Better testing procedures are welcome, though more school funding is critical, said Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association.