As an update to a previous post, TeacherJay wanted to take a moment to point out Thursday’s NY Times article in which Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings seems less than enthusiastic about the drafts of the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act being passed around in the House of Representatives. Ms. Spellings is quite a fan of “increased accountability”. TeacherJay still thinks it is a bad idea to punish, or penalize, schools for not making “sufficient progress” when that progress is ill-defined in the first place. Today’s post looks briefly at how the head of all education systems in the country might spell disaster for immigrant students.
Particularly troubling is her fight against giving immigrant students 5 years before having to take a standardized test in English. Cognitive Academic Language Proficiciency (CALP) is “the language ability required for academic achievement” according to the DOE website; as opposed to Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS), which is the language ability required for verbal face-to-face communication.
Unfortunately, the generally accepted timeframes for developing these skills in a full-immersion program is usually around 2-3 years for BICS, sometimes referred to as “playground English” and as much as 5-7 years for CALP (Myths of Second Language Acquisition, Communicating with ESOL Students, Acquiring English as a Second Language, – and there are MANY others!). Ms. Spellings, is it really “too long” to give students the amount of time that it takes for immigrant students to develop necessary skills in English before we test them and hold their teachers accountable?… just because a child can speak to his friends on the playground in just a few months does not mean that he is ready to comprehend passages written in English and make a few mis-spellings along the way.
TeacherJay may just have to take back that gold star!