As you know, I teach English as a Second Language (click link to learn more about Lau vs. Nichols) and part of my job is to test all incoming students who meet certain requirements for testing (sample Home Language Survey). Our centralized registration in my district has allowed for immediate notification of possible ELL students so I actually find out before the student arrives in my building. As any prepared teacher, I organize the assessment before I even meet the student.
At the beginning of the school year, we have thirty days to test (click link to learn more about policies and laws) and identify our students but during the school year, we have only two weeks. There is pressure to get them tested quickly so they can receive services if they qualify which is totally understandable. We as educators want the best for our students so we want things to move quickly. But what isn’t seen is that I have to give a rather long assessment to students who have been on US soil for maybe five days. It’s like saying…Welcome to America, now let me give you this three hour test to see if you need language help.
Who wouldn’t love that…you come to a foreign land then two days later you are handed a test that you can barely read let alone understand. I try to make my students feel comfortable by talking to them in the hallway or classroom prior to the test but nothing can really prepare them for a ten page reading assessment. I do use the information from the assessment to guide my instruction or give pointers to their classroom teachers as well. I understand testing is a must but it can be frustrating on all parties included.