Minorities left behind? Study finds faults with Bush's education act

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sat Mar 12 16:20:41 UTC 2005

>>From the (UC Davis) California Aggie, Posted 03/11/2005

Minorities left behind?

Study finds faults with Bushs education act

By JEFF KATZ / Aggie Staff Writer

  President Bush's plan for leaving no child behind in education may not
be inclusive to all.  New findings in a study by the Education Policy
Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University say the No Child Left
Behind Act does not sufficiently address the needs of language-minority
students in the United States.

  According to a Feb. 8 press release, Dr. Wayne Wright, who wrote a
briefing on the study, says the government has changed its education
policy in an effort to pass standardized assessment tests.  The study also
claims that limited English proficient students are taught English that is
needed to place better on scholastic tests instead of the foundations
needed to communicate effectively.

  "The irony here is that while teachers are giving up what they recognize
as good instruction for LEP students in the name of preparing them for
high-stakes tests, many of these students' test scores will end up being
excluded anyway," Wright said in the release.  This exclusion refers to a
school's ability to only submit a portion of scholastic test scores for
assessment. The study suggested that some schools purposely exclude the
scores of LEP students to avoid accountability in regards to that area's

  Veronica Eguila, manager for the Language Policy and Leadership Office
at California's Department of Education, says that while public schools in
the state only have to provide 65 percent or more of total scores, the
sheer size of student populations does mean LEP scores are included.
"Additionally, there has to be 95 percent or more of students tested and
that includes the group of English learners," Eguila said. "Districts are
definitely being held accountable for that success. Districts that do not
meet the criteria will need to create a plan to address the issue of
English learners in their district."

  President Bush announced the No Child Left Behind Act shortly after his
2001 inauguration. According to the federal executive summary, the act
places greater accountability on states, school districts and schools when
students don't meet minimum requirements on scholastic tests.  Yearly
tests are administered to track state progression and to ensure that
students reach proficiency within 12 years. The act calls for these
assessments to be studied within the categories of race, ethnicity,
poverty, disability and limited English proficiency to "ensure that no
group is left behind."

  NCLB is also said to provide funding for English-learning students to
bring them to the same level of academic standards as other students.
But the ASU study claims that this funding for LEP programs is being
spread more thinly and not benefiting students efficiently.  Eguila
acknowledged that there are constant funding issues with any form of
education, but added that state representatives recognize the importance
in supporting LEP programs through new legislation efforts and additional
state fund allocations.

  The study did not specifically name California, or any state, in fault,
but rather found the NCLB program as lacking support for English learners.
However, Eguila said she believes the opposite can be said for NCLB's
effect in California.  "We believe [NCLB] has added accountability to our
system," Eguila said.  "We are able to see the progress that is already
being made by English learners and feel that credibility requirements will
continue to assess how well schools are doing."

  Although NCLB is aimed at elementary education, UC Davis' linguistics
department offers both undergraduate and graduate courses for over 700 LEP
students every year, specifically for international students studying
here. Areas of concentration include speaking skills, writing, reading,
vocabulary development and grammar.

JEFF KATZ can be reached at city at californiaaggie.com.

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