An "unstandardized" perspective:
state's new evaluation test for our English Language Learners. Poor ESOL parents and children! Some of those children
were born in the US. Their parents, at registration, indicated that they speak another language at home. That
"yes" throws children into the mucky oozing "ESOL program." There are five levels and children may
languish there for years.
Level five indicates "escaping-er-I
mean-exiting" the program. I've been WIDA testing children I know. I know they speak English. Children
whose speaking skills, if it were allowed, I could evaluate "lickety-split!" Instead, I punch buttons and we-one
child at a time--spend 40 minutes together. Yes! ONE CHILD AT A TIME! Must be like the elementary school
"Now it's your turn..." This
is some boring BS!
So, what are we measuring? Have
all the variables been controlled, in this God awful experiment at the expense of children's hopes, dreams, aspirations?
"Now it's your turn..." To do what? To have what?
To languish in "Developmental" classes that are mistaken for Spanish classes because so much Spanish is spoken there?
"There has been a mistake", said the Polish speaking Maurice's
translator. "You've put Maurice in a Spanish class, not English."
And so, a return to the question; "What are we really testing with the WIDA test?
Perhaps we're testing concentration. The prompts are so boring that kids don't
focus. They then can't answer. But not because they don't speak English, but because the prompts and the deliverers
(Ms. Chang and Nelly)-blah, blah blah in perfect English about blah, blah, blah.
And for me, the test administrator, one on one, over and over, it's crazy making. "WHERE ARE YOU
FROM, MS. CHANG?! ARE YOU FROM THE "W"OF WIDA, WISCONSIN?! Tell us about your personal life...
I and my students might listen to prompts about Ms. Chang's personal life.
How, for instance did a Hispanic woman--for Ms. Chang's picture is surely a woman of hispanic heritage--end up with
the "apellido" Chang? How did she end up in Wisconsin of all places? How did she find employment with the
Florida Department of Education? Now THAT would be a prompt I might listen to!
"Hello, my name is Ms. Chang. I divorced my philandering philanthropist
of a husband and had to go to work. I'm really an oceanic photographer and upcoming, you will have a chance to talk
about past (that's the key word, children: past) uses of oceanic photography equipment. Might I suggest you write of past
surreptitious spying on CHEATING SNORKELING MEN?!
you can only see here my smiling face, I am obese; larger that the main barn of my childhood farmhouse in Guatemala. I
blame my poor nutrition on my ex."
"Now it's your turn. Explain
what "bigger than a barn" means.
More coming up!