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It is estimated that 15% to 20% of the children going to school in America are foreign language speakers at home. The number is also said to be rapidly increasing due to widespread emigration and settlement of foreigners in the U.S. This fact has had a further rise in LEP students in America. LEP students do not use English language as their first language. Moreover, their culture also differs from that of the people living in the U.S. Due to the differences that exist for LEP students in terms of language and culture, their performance in school is affected whenever they are put in the same level with non-Limited English Proficient students. The tests used to evaluate LEP students are also different based on their demographic, cultural, geographic and behavioral characteristics. Different states have in the past applied diverse tests to ascertain the level of English knowledge to Limited English Proficient students (Anderson et al, 1997). Many LEP students are originally from different culture from the one dominant in America. For instance, it is not uncommon for a behavior regarded negative by one culture to be judged positive in another. Therefore, students may depict varied reactions and responses towards tests based on culture. Consequently, it is imperative that tests on Limited English Proficient students are framed in such a way as to accommodate the variations of culture.
All students within the American society; regardless of their primary language, need to be given a level ground for their education. As a result, several changes have been done on the examination requirements for students in America. The enactment of a federal law requiring a large-scale examination for students has created room for consideration of the minority students as well as the disabled students. In evaluating the tests to be applied to LEP students, various criteria may be used (Geisinger & Carlson, 1992). In order to attain success in the tests administered, it is essential that certain facts are put into adequate consideration. For instance, the tests are supposed to be developed in accordance to basic requirements of the Federal NCLB Act. They also should be normed in order to maintain certain standards. Similarly, it is crucial that the tests demonstrate utmost reliability as well as validation.
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The provisions of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have had immense positive impacts on LEP students. As s result of the Act, various states have created diverse tests for LEP students in order to comply (Miura, 2006). For instance, the New York State Board of Regents developed a standard for testing language arts throughout schools within New York State. Most importantly, the standards are meant to include LEP students. As a move towards compliance to the federal requirements, the New York State Education Department administers an annual test for English proficiency known as the New York English as Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT). The test is administered to LEP students in K-12 grades.
The State of California also complies with the Federal requirements of NCLB Act. This has been very helpful in creating a fair ground for all students within the State to have an equal opportunity for their studies (Fashola et al, 1997). In California, the SAT-9 test is used for the LEP students. The Official name of the test is SAT-9 test. The SAT-9 test is a unified examination published by the Brace of measuring educational standards of Harcourt. In order to meet the requirements of the Federal NCLB Act, specific standards and norms have been included in the test. Similarly, the test embodies questions with multiple choices meant to measure the basic capabilities in English, math as well as other areas. The Stanford-9 test was first incorporated in California examinations in 1997 for a period of five years for students throughout the State. As a basic requirement, the test was meant for students in 2-11 grades. Later, the test was replaced by CAT/6 in the year 2003.
The State of Florida also offers a fair environment for LEP students. In the recent past, the state has endeavored to provide programming to LEP students based on their English proficient levels (MacDonald, 2004). In fact, about 20% of students in K-12 grades in the State public schools are categorized as English Language Learner (ELL). There has been a continuous increase in non-native English speakers in the Florida. This has prompted policymakers to restructure tests for LEP students. In fact, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) is fully committed in observing the decree of the LULAC aimed at uniting Latin Americans. According to the consent decree, each LEP student is supposed to have an access to programs based on their level of proficiency in English. Similar programs have been used in various States such as Texas, Arizona and Kentucky (Gottlieb, 1994). For instance, the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) is used to determine the progress attained by LEP students. On the other hand, the Arizona Instrument to measure Standards (AIMS) describes the tests on performance and maintenance of standards for students in grades 3-10. Conversely, the Title III Local District Plan and Assurances in Kentucky has made progress in Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) for LEP students.
The different tests administered to LEP students in different States differ in requirements and standards. However, they are all meant to meet the special needs possessed by LEP students. Most of the tests are in accordance to the NCLB Act requirements. Therefore, they are meant to give children in K-12 grades a level ground for the development of their academic skills irrespective of their primary languages. The validity of the tests is based on the NCLB requirements and the level of seriousness employed by the respective departments of education. The establishment of the tests has led to the growth of academic growth in children with foreign primary languages in America. This has created equal opportunities for all students in America.