A Westchester County legislator has joined the discussion about the new English testing policy that requires immigrant students to take a standard reading exam after one year in American schools. “Legislator Jose Alvarado,”:http://www.westchesterlegislators.com/Legislators/D17/Bio/index.htm a Democrat from Yonkers, says he’s calling on state and federal leaders to change the federal No Child Left Behind policy.
Kids who don’t learn English fast enough are being left “in the dust,” he said in a press release today. He will pitch a resolution at the county board’s “Committee on Generational, Cultural and Ethnic Diversity”:http://www.westchesterlegislators.com/Committees/2006_2007Term/Generational_Cultural%20and%20Ethnic%20Diversity/index.htm calling on the state Education Department to cancel the new policy. Children with limited English used to be exempt from the grade 3-8 English Language Arts exam for up to three years.
Local superintendents were similarly “displeased over the change.”:http://hallmonitor.lohudblogs.com/2006/11/07/superintendents-to-meet-on-english-testing-change/ “Virginia”:http://hallmonitor.lohudblogs.com/2007/02/26/virginias-english-testing-revolt/ raised similar objections, but relented under the threat of losing funds.
Hispanic leaders are certainly not in agreement on this issue, as Education Week reports “here.”:http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/04/04/31zamora.h26.html Some argue that more flexibility in testing will only allow schools to weaken their standards.
Alvarado says he’s speaking from experience, having come from Honduras in 1982 with little English. “Believe me, every immigrant child coming to this country is motivated to learn English,” he said, “but the rate of learning any new language varies from person to person. The policy should reflect that.”