for a Special Exam
From El Diario
June 17, 2004
By Claudia Zequeira
Immigrant lobbyists met yesterday to criticize the
English language regent recently arrived students must take in
order to graduate from High School. They asked the Department of
Education to create an alternative test designed specifically for
students in the process of learning the language.
At the City Hall
press conference, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Asian
American Legal Defense and Education Fund and various
students who will have to take the Regents exam in English, described
the exam as unjust and designed to punish those who fail the test,
creating a "crisis of scholarly desertion."
they said, is due in part to the fact that the Regents exam demands
knowledge of language and literature that is relatively
too sophisticated for the immigrant students, or English Language
Learners (ELLs). According to them, the English classes that the
recently arrived students attend concentrate on basic facets of
English, like spelling and grammar.
"The governor, the mayor, and the bureaucrats are telling
the children, “ready
or not, you have to take this exam. The majority of the ELLs are
not ready," said Margie McHughe, director of the New York
Since 1995, educational reforms at the state level have forced
students of High schools to pass 5 Regents exams in order to graduate.
Though the students can take these tests in their native languages,
the English exam continues to be a requirement.
to those who oppose the exam, is a roadblock for the immigrant
students who want to improve themselves.
"The Regent exam [in English] forces the students to do work,
write, and analyze texts that they have studied for 13 years. A
immigrant must immediately prepare for an exam that others have
been preparing for 13 years," said Professor Luis Reyes of
McHughe and the group indicated that in the year
2000, half of the immigrant population graduated from secondary
school in less
than 7 years in part because of the break in the standards. The
New York Immigration Coalition has published reports in which it
is demonstrated that the English Language Learners are "pushed" out
of regular schools when the teachers and directors, who do not
want to spoil the statistics of their school, realize that those
students have low chances of passing the Regent exam.
Department of Education is currently referring calls to the state
Department of Education. The spokesperson for the state
department, Jonathan Burman said that the English exam will continue
to be a state requirement. He also said "it is important that
the immigrant students learn English before graduating because
they are going to need those skills after secondary school."
the year 2002, according to the Coalition, of the 63,460 students
who took the Regent exams, 8,361 were categorized as English language
Learners or students in the process of learning the language. Another
16,905 were categorized as "ex ELLs".
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Translated from Spanish by Charlotte