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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by Contract/Grant No. R305U960001-98A between the National Academy of Sciences and U.S. Department of Education. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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SUGGESTED CITATION: National Research Council (2000) Testing English-Language Learners in U.S. Schools: Report and Workshop Summary. Committee on Educational Excellence and Testing Equity. Kenji Hakuta and Alexandra Beatty, Editors. Board on Testing and Assessment, Center for Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine
National Research Council
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE AND TESTING EQUITY
ULRIC NEISSER (Co-Chair),
Department of Psychology, Cornell University
WILLIAM T. TRENT (Co-Chair),
Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Nixon Peabody, LLP, Washington, D.C.
Department of Education, Stanford University
LARRY V. HEDGES,
Department of Education, University of Chicago
JAY P. HEUBERT,
Teachers College, Columbia University
EUGENE G. JOHNSON,
American Institutes for Research, Washington, D.C.
JAMES A. KADAMUS,
Office of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education, New York State Department of Education
Providence School Department, Providence, Rhode Island
HENRY M. LEVIN,
Teachers College, Columbia University
GLENN C. LOURY,
Institute on Race and Social Division, Boston University
DIANA C. PULLIN,
Department of Education, Boston College
BELLA H. ROSENBERG, *
American Federation of Teachers, Washington, D.C.
THEODORE M. SHAW,
NAACP – Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., New York
JOHN P. TOBIN,
Siemens Corporation (retired), New York
National School Boards Association, Alexandria, Virginia
HERBERT J. WALBERG,
Department of Education, University of Illinois, Chicago
ALEXANDRA BEATTY, Study Co-Director
KAREN MITCHELL, Study Co-Director
ANDREW E. TOMPKINS, Senior Project Assistant
Did not participate in workshop or deliberations for this report.
BOARD ON TESTING AND ASSESSMENT
EVA L. BAKER (Chair), Director,
Center for the Study of Evaluation, University of California, Los Angeles
RICHARD C. ATKINSON, President,
University of California
CHRISTOPHER F. EDLEY, JR.,
Harvard Law School
John F. Kennedy School of Public Policy, Harvard University
MILTON D. HAKEL,
Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University
ROBERT M. HAUSER,
Institute for Research on Poverty, Center for Demography, University of Wisconsin, Madison
PAUL W. HOLLAND,
Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey
DANIEL M. KORETZ,
RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia
RICHARD J. LIGHT,
Graduate School of Education and John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Departments of Political Science and Education, University of California, Santa Barbara
SRI, International, Menlo Park, California
ANDREW C. PORTER,
Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison
LORETTA A. SHEPARD,
School of Education, University of Colorado, Boulder
CATHERINE E. SNOW,
Graduate School of Education, Harvard University
WILLIAM L. TAYLOR,
Attorney at Law,
WILLIAM T. TRENT,
Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
GUADALUPE M. VALDES,
School of Education, Stanford University
The Vandaveer Group, Inc., Houston, Texas
LAURESS L. WISE,
Human Resources Research Organization, Alexandria, Virginia
KENNETH I. WOLPIN,
Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania
PASQUALE J. DEVITO, Director
LISA D. ALSTON, Administrative Associate
The Committee on Educational Excellence and Testing Equity was created under the auspices of the National Research Council (NRC), and specifically under the oversight of the Board on Testing and Assessment (BOTA). The committee's charge is to explore the challenges that face U.S. schools as they work to achieve the related goals of academic excellence and equity for all students. BOTA members recognized that an inevitable consequence of the heightened standards that are at the heart of current reforms is that some students will fail to meet them. As a result, BOTA wished to pay close attention to the consequences of these reforms. Of particular interest were the effects that new standards-based tests might have on students already at increased risk for school failure. BOTA members desired attention to be given not only to provisions made in reform programs to prepare all students for the new challenges, but also to the consequences for students who were unable to meet these higher goals. BOTA members were also concerned about the potential unintended consequences of reform efforts. The breadth and importance of these concerns led to the creation of a body that could devote its attention exclusively to these issues.
Thus, in 1998, the Forum on Educational Excellence and Testing Equity was formed. In its first two years this diverse and multidisciplinary body held a series of meetings and workshops to begin surveying the landscape of issues in its purview. At the end of that time the NRC leadership determined that there were a range of important ongoing issues for the
forum to address, and that it should be empowered to draw conclusions and make recommendations to policy makers, educators, and researchers based on its findings. In the spring of 2000 the group was reconstituted as the Committee on Educational Excellence and Testing Equity.
This document reflects that transition in that it provides not only the summary of a workshop held by the forum on the testing of English-language learners (students learning English as an additional language) in U.S. schools, but also a report on the new committee's conclusions derived from that workshop and from subsequent deliberations. An important aspect of this committee's mission is to provide policy makers at all levels and others with succinct summaries of the state of research and practice on important topics. Because of its diversity both in expertise and perspective, the committee is well positioned to sift through matters of fact and opinion, and to provide thoughtful analysis for policy makers and others on the issues and debates that concern them.
While much has been written about the needs of English-language learners, there is an air of disarray in the discussion. Sometimes vehement disagreements about the value and fairness of different approaches to educating the growing population of English-language learners in the United States have partly obscured some important aspects of the education of these students. The forum turned its attention to the specific challenges of devising and administering suitable tests to achieve different purposes related to the needs of English-language learners. It considered the need for information about individual students' progress; needs for accountability data for schools, districts, and states; and the need to monitor broader trends in the educational progress of this group of students.
Subsequently, the new committee set aside time to weigh and discuss both the workshop presentations and discussions and other materials. The committee members identified several key messages from their review and present them here together with several recommendations to the field. The summary of the workshop fleshes out these findings with a more detailed picture of the issues. Our hope is that this short report will be of use to those who are actively engaged in addressing the needs of the approximately 3,000,000 children in our schools who are not fully proficient in English. The committee wishes to recognize the contributions of the many individuals who participated in the forum workshop, who are too numerous to list here (a list is included in Appendix A). Both their thoughtful discussions and the many supporting materials they supplied were very useful to the committee as it explored this complex topic and their partici-
pation has been much appreciated. Andrew Tompkins' able assistance with the report is gratefully acknowledged as well.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Jamal Abedi, Center for the Study of Evaluation, University of California, Los Angeles; Anne Hafner, Charter College of Education, California State University, Los Angeles; Charlene Rivera, Center for Equity and Excellence in Education, The George Washington University; Russell Rumberger, School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara; and Wendy Yen, Consultant, Pebble Beach, California.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of htis report was overseen by Richard Duran, University of California at Santa Barbara, appointed by the Center for Education, who was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Eva Baker, chair
Board on Testing and Assessment