Understanding the interaction between high-stakes graduation tests and English language learners

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Vasquez Heilig, J. (2011). Understanding the interaction between high-stakes graduation tests and English language learnersTeachers College Record, 113(12).

This article underscores the legitimacy of the concern that ELs experience unintended consequences associated with high-stakes exit testing and accountability policy and suggests that social justice and equity are ratiocinative critiques of high-stakes testing and accountability policies. The next round of federal and state educational policy must be a mandate that provides support for ELs to meet performance standards by providing evidence-based solutions: appropriate curriculum, pedagogy, and well-trained teachers. Furthermore, policy makers, practitioners, and researchers should be cognizant of the less intrusive approach that many ELs and their families have toward schools by reconsidering whether “one size fits all” high-stakes exit testing policies are plausible for increasingly heterogeneous student populations. The use of multiple measures of EL student success in content areas, such as portfolios, is an accountability mechanism that makes sense, not just for ELs, but for all students.

See my 2011 keynote on ELLs and exit testing at the US Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition on UStream

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Categories: Accountability, English Language Learners, High-Stakes Testing

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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