Today I had the unpleasant experience of having an administrator raise his voice and swear in response to my wondering aloud if it would make sense to ask successful ELLs what had helped them be able to pass state-mandated tests. I was told there was no time for that BS–that we have no time to mess around with so many failing students. To me, if you don’t find out from students what helps them, you just keep shooting darts in the dark and hoping for a bull’s eye. I was so surprised at being cut off so abruptly that I had to fight back some emotion (thank goodness I didn’t cry!) and found it hard to know my purpose in the meeting.
I also wondered why it has taken until March for him to call a meeting to address the problem.
The Reading teacher and former ESOL teacher in me says it’s not the students who are the problem. The expectation that students learning English should be asked to pass the same tests as their native English-speaking peers, when they have had only 1-5 years of English instruction, is absurd. The political issues in this part of the educational process is complicated beyond my understanding. But my heart tells me it is wrong to squash the spirit out of kids who are “learning to become bilingual” (thank you, Colleen Cruz). There has to be a better way.