MALDEF Regional Counsel Testifies Before Congress on Promise and Shortcomings of NCLB for English Language Learners

ELL students require assessments tailored to specific academic
and linguistic needs

March 23, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Peter Zamora, Washington, DC Regional Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Co-Chair of the Hispanic Education Coalition, testified before the House Education and Labor Committee, Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on the Impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on English Language Learners (ELLs).

There are currently between 5 and 6 million English language learners enrolled in U.S. public schools, constituting over 10% of our total public school population. ELLs’ academic performance levels are significantly below those of their peers in nearly every measure of academic performance. ELLs face the dual challenge of learning English while simultaneously gaining academic knowledge in an unfamiliar language.

“Congress must provide additional support to states in the development and implementation of appropriate academic and linguistic assessments for ELLs,” stated Zamora. “Both the federal government and the states must do much more to implement native language, simplified English, portfolio, and other assessments designed specifically to measure ELLs’ academic knowledge and English proficiency.”

Zamora concluded, “For NCLB to reduce or eliminate academic achievement gaps, officials at all levels of government – federal, state, and local – must commit to better serving the ELL student population.”

A full copy of Zamora’s statement is available upon request.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund