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Are Schools Measuring the Progress of English-Language Learners All Wrong?

Are Schools Measuring the Progress of English-Language Learners All Wrong?

Recent study conducted by the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) suggests that educational institute’s emphasis on the test scores of English-Language which obscures the progress made by them.

The study analyzed the achievement of multilingual students in math and reading which has increased significantly from 2003-2015. The scores of multilingual students were 2-3 times more than of monolingual students.

Multilingual students were those who spoke a different language than English in their home. One obstacle faced by the study was to whether or not include former English-learners and multilingual students that were already proficient in English.

 

To Include Former English Learners or Not?

A debate was out forward while comparing the test scores. It was argued that students who were learning English had limited skills which affected their academic performance. However, once they had learned the language, they could no longer be classified as English learners. Therefore, if educational institutions improved their English language teaching skills, the results would not be visible in the new test scores.

Admin Issues

Another issue was that the Trump administration increased the gap for students learning English-language. Therefore, by analyzing the test scores of current English-learners and former English-learners shows a better outcome of success in schools catering to multilingual students.

Associate professor at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, Michael Kieffer said, “English learners' NAEP scores were flat because they're the group that isn't yet proficient in English. To assess progress over time, the whole group of multilingual students should be looked at, because if you look at all of them, you can count proficient students."

 It was also revealed that the overall scores of the monolingual students increased by a significant number. Though, multilingual students had better scores across different grades and subjects.

 

No Known Cause

It is evident that multilingual students are achieving more than monolingual students, but there is no indication of what might be the cause of it. One reason might be that the time period that was analyzed corresponded with the act of the No Child Left Behind which provides enhanced attention to multilingual students. Many programs were also provided to multilingual students to build on their language capacities.

Kieffer says, “The No Child Left behind Act raised awareness of multilingual students. That's one thing that happened during that period, but other things happened that I'd put under the category of raising awareness.”

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