Florida government leaders have challenged federal rules regarding when to count the test scores of children still learning English. It’s not fair to include their results in school grading measures, the officials argue, before the students are ready.
Matt DiCarlo of the Albert Shanker Institute, who closely monitors Florida’s accountability system, contends that if the argument makes sense for ELL students, it’s good enough for all students. In a new blog post, DiCarlo suggests that many of the same things that hold back English-language learners also hinder children who are behind academically for other reasons, such as a lack of advantages at home. He writes:
By the same logic, however, what about a child from a disadvantaged background who is a native speaker but enters the school or the year far behind? For the purposes of school accountability, is it any more reasonable to require that that child, paraphrasing Superintendent Carvalho, “sit for an exam and demonstrate equal proficiency to a student who was born in an affluent community and who was at or above the proficiency level before they even began the school year?” Moreover, is it fair to punish schools or label them as “failing” if they happen to serve large proportions of these struggling students and fail to help most of them achieve well over year’s worth of growth, and often 2-3 years, in a single year’s time?