New Laws Force Non-English Students To Take Reading, Writing Exam

UPDATED: 6:40 pm EST January 8, 2007

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NEW YORK — New York students who are still learning English will be required to take the state’s English Language Arts Exam, according to new rules that will take effect Tuesday.

In past years, there have been exemptions for students who are in the process of learning English and had attended U.S. schools for less than three years.However, new testing rules put forth by the federal No Child Left Behind act has eliminated those exceptions, and it has some parents and teachers concerned.

“To throw a test at them after being here for one year, it’s unfair. It’s academic torture for them,” said Danielle Keller, a teacher who is administering the test.

With the new guidelines, children who have been in the country for a year or more must take the exam.”These exams are formal reading and writing exams. How do they learn enough information under their belts to perform successfully and develop good self-esteem?” said PS 115 principle James Ambrose.Supporters argued that the new rules are intended to make schools accountable for every student.

“With testing, we have more data so policymakers at every level will have more information to make sure students who need more help are getting it,” the U.S. Department of Education said in a statement released Monday.

New York City officials said that children who have lived in the United States for less than three years would not be held back based on the test results.They also said that children with limited English abilities would be given accommodations such as extra time.

David Hng

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