EL PASO — Canutillo Independent School District trustees Armando Rodriguez and Adrian Medina traveled to Austin on Wednesday to speak with legislators about student assessment and its impact on recent immigrants with limited English proficiency. The two Canutillo board members met with several key state lawmakers and members of the House and Senate Public Education Committee to discuss important school issues.
During their trip, Rodriguez and Medina also met with some members of the El Paso delegation to the Texas Legislature to urge them to support legislation that, if approved, would reduce the number of End of Course exams, infuse testing alternatives like the SAT or ACT, suspend state accountability ratings for the 2012-13 school year and prohibit the use of End of Course exams for student class rank or admission into a Texas college.
Rodriguez and Medina also spoke to legislators about the need to re-think the way Texas assesses students who have recently moved into school districts from foreign countries, and asked that a reprieve be provided to districts like Canutillo who serve large numbers of students who have been in American school systems for a very short period of time and may not be proficient in English.
“Every year we deal with so many students who have just made the transition from Mexico to the United States. Students who come here with a deep desire to learn but with limited English skills, or even no English skills at all,” said Rodriguez, CISD’s board president. “The state, as it stands right now, expects us to fully prepare these students to take the rigorous End of Course exams in just one year. Those expectations are unrealistic.”
CISD officials say Trustees have tackled this issue before. In December, the Board drafted a letter to Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking for cooperation on the issue of English proficiency and assessment for recently immigrated students.
They add, o this date, neither the state nor federal education offices have responded to CISD’s requests.