BOX 9-1 Examples of Policies on Exemptions and Accommodations
Philadelphia: Exemptions: The SAT-9 and the Aprenda (a reading and math assessment in Spanish) are used to assess math and reading knowledge and skills. Level 1 English-language learners (those who are not literate in their native language) are generally exempt from the SAT-9 and are given the Aprenda. In some schools, the Aprenda is given to all students in bilingual programs. Levels 2 and 3 English-language learners take the SAT-9 with accommodations. Level 4 English-language learners (those who are almost ready to be mainstreamed) take the SAT-9 without accommodations.
Accommodations include extra time; multiple shortened test periods; simplification of directions; reading aloud of questions (for math and science only); translation of words or phrases on the spot (for math and science only); decoding of words upon request (but not for reading); use of gestures and nonverbal expressions to clarify directions and prompts; student use of graphic organizers and artwork, usually in combination with student's oral responses; testing in a separate room or small-group setting; use of a study carrel; and use of a word match glossary.
Philadelphia teachers reported that students generally reacted favorably. Some, however, said that "ungraded" English-language learners tested at their age-appropriate grade level, especially in middle and high school, were frustrated in spite of accommodations. Recommendations include allowing the use of bilingual dictionaries and electronic translators and even more time (interspersed with short breaks and over a series of days).
A few schools in Philadelphia are experimenting with portfolios, which may be used to assess math and reading knowledge and skills of Levels 1, 2, and 3 English-language learners.
Florida: The state requires district norm-referenced achievement tests at grades 4 and 8; Florida Writes, a writing assessment given at grades 4, 8, and 10; and the high school competency test, required for high school graduation. In the coming year, the state will replace the district norm-referenced achievement tests with the Florida comprehensive assessment test, a test of math and reading based on state standards.
Exemptions: The state suggests that English-language learners in an ap