Right now, Florida students who are English Language Learners are not allowed to take high stakes tests in their native language. Ready or not, they are mandated by the state to take all tests in English.
Two bills have been filed to allow native language assessments. We need your voice now.
Click here to ask Governor Ron DeSantis, Senate President Bill Galvano, Speaker Jose Oliva, Senator Manny Diaz and Representative Ralph Massullo to even the playing field for all students and make Native Language Assessments a reality.
- Teaching the English language is and has been a major goal of American schools for over a century and is a mandated subject in Florida. The proposed law applies to Florida’s quarter-million English learners (ELs) only during the period of time they are classified as ELs. Instruction, assignments, classroom tests, and the statewide administration of an annual English language proficiency test presently provided in English will continue to be presented in English. English learners want to learn English. Their parents want them to learn English. Florida Sunshine State TESOL, an organization for teachers and professors engaged in teaching the English language, are among the many organizations that support these bills. Speakers of minority languages learn the dominant language. Taking tests in another language won’t change that. Students are incentivized to learn English at every step of their lives in the USA.
- The purpose of a content area test (mathematics, for example) is to find out how much the student knows about the subject. Administering state subject matter assessments to ELs in English yields results so distorted by the language factor that we cannot determine whether the scores reflect knowledge of the subject or if they simply tell us what we already know: ELs are students who are not yet proficient in English. The result does not tell us how much of the tested subject the student knows. The persistence of large achievement gaps between students who are ELs and those who are not demonstrates that currently available accommodations are not sufficient to level the playing field. Yet, current policy requires ELs to suffer the high-stakes consequences of low scores no matter how inaccurate they may be. Misleading results as to the test-taker’s proficiency also distorts instructional, budgetary, and administrative decision-making, as well as inflicting long-term educational and career damage to the test-taker.
- The situation for ELs is especially dire in high school because earning a standard diploma requires them to pass tests administered only in English. As a result, the EL subgroup has the lowest graduation rate of any in the state. Their low graduation rate has a negative economic impact on the state. The lost economic benefit to the state of NOT adopting native language assessment should be taken into account in any cost analysis along with estimates of the federal resources available for test development.