Here we go again...it's standardized testing time. It's the time of the year when students across the US take their End of Grade (EOG) assessments and/or End of Course (EOC) exams. These tests/exams are administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner.
The truth is, this way of assessing understanding of core content is very unfair; especially for our newcomer students who are just starting to learn the English language.
Yesterday we began administering EOGs at my school. English learners I serve are expected to take the same exact assessment monolingual English speakers take. Newly arrived immigrant students are also required to take these assessments...NO exceptions! The only testing accommodation they ought to have is testing in a small group setting, word-to-word dictionary, and read-aloud for math and science.
This year, I was assigned to administer the English Language Arts EOG for 4th grade. In this group was, our newcomer Kathya.
Kathya enrolled in our school in August 2017. This is her first experience in a US school. The only English she knows is what she has acquired in the past eight months.
The day of the EOG, she came in my room with her dictionary in hand and a very worried and confused face. I assured her that everything was going to be ok...but I don't think my encouraging was enough.
She took a seat; I logged her in, and the assessment began. A few minutes into the required instructions, (completely in English), I can feel her eyes looking at me for help. I walked over to her and pointed at the screen as a signal to begin the assessment. After clicking "start", I can see her eyes widening when the text, entirely in English, appeared on the screen.
I put my hand on her shoulder and walked away...
It hurt me so much to have to walk away from her and leave her facing one of the biggest struggles a newcomer student has to face.
The entire rest of the test all I could do was feel and pray for her. We made eye contact several times, and every time I wondered if she knew what I was thinking...because I knew what SHE was thinking and feeling. I know she was scared, worried, and embarrassed. I know she felt defeated! She knows she failed and thinks she's done.
Dear Newcomer Student Taking the EOGs or EOCs,
The time of the year to take the EOGs or EOCs is here. We can't avoid it. We can't go against legislation that requires you to take this assessment. You probably wouldn't have any problem taking this assessment if it was in your home language. However, this evaluation must be in English, the language you are just starting to learn.
So, I want you to know that I understand how you feel.
You are NOT a number nor a pass or fail title. See beyond the number. Focus on your vision and mission to finish the good fight in education.
For resources and way to support newcomers and English learners, check out this post.
Thank you for reading!