Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Wednesday, July 18, 2018 5:47 pm
Oct. 31, 2006

Blazer to speak at Fifth Annual Celebrate Our Rising Stars Summit

by Poorva Singal, Online News Editor and Op/Ed Editor
Senior Abhishek Sinha will be one of three students to represent high school English Language Learners (ELLs) at the Fifth Annual Celebrate Our Rising Stars Summit that will be held tomorrow in Washington, D.C. A former ESOL student and an ELL himself, Sinha will share his views on what it is like to be an ELL and hopes to especially address the difficulties these students face with standardized testing.

The Summit will be held at the Hilton Washington Hotel by the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Each year, the Summit is hosted in hopes of making the No Child Left Behind (NCBL) Act of 2001 a success, as the act aims to encourage high levels of academic success for ELLs, according to the OELA summit web site. This year, it will be held from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, with part of the last day dedicated to hearing the voices of ELLs, so they may offer insight about the challenges and successes these students face.

Sinha was chosen to speak at the event along with two other seniors from local schools. According to ESOL resource teacher Joseph Bellino. Sinha is the first student in 15 years to be placed in Honors English after finishing ESOL. "They wanted students who were successful," Bellino said.

Along with Sinha will be seniors Karla Rivera from the Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C. and Maritza Q. Martinez-Garcia from J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax, Virginia. The panel moderator will be Blair graduate Jose Palacios.

To accurately represent the views of Blair ESOL students, Sinha has been speaking with them to get their opinions. He has asked the other students the questions that he thinks will be asked of him during the conference. Sinha said that during the session, he aims to convey the voice of these students to the nation. Of his list of issues he wants to address, Sinha says standardized tests like the HSAs, which are required for graduation, and the SATs are at the top of his list.

Bellino was given a list of suggested topics to be addressed by the panelists during the conference, including academic achievement, support by the greater school community, balancing family responsibilities and school, parent support for students' education and access to technology. "The purpose of a [student] panel," Bellino explained, "is to let people know how"laws that they are interpreting or laws that schools are interpreting, how is it affecting students"[and] to get an idea of what are the things that we should be doing that we are not doing."

Sinha believes that while these tests might be a good way of assessing the level ofstudents, they are unfair for the ESOL students, who are at a language disadvantage. He does not believe regular students and ESOL students should be tested the same way. "The government should make some kind of examination different for ESOL students," he said. "At least make a difference in English if not in other subjects." Sinha does think, however, that all students are offered equal opportunity in school and sometimes it is just a matter of taking advantage of resources like tutoring that can help a student do better.

On the topic of the government getting involved in education this way, Bellino believes both positives and negatives result from it. "Many people talk about how ESOL students in their schools were being completely ignored until the government started to pay attention to them and told schools that they are accountable for those students," Bellino said. But, some students are not able to enroll in school or they drop out of school, because they have no way of passing these exams.

While Sinha said he is nervous about going to the conference and presenting in front of a crowd, he is still excited for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the ESOL students. "The government will know what is actually going on in the school with the ESOL department and what kind of trouble they are facing and they can work on it," Sinha said, "because it is really hard for the government"to find out what is going on unless they hear the voice of an ESOL student."

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  • Outraged on October 31, 2006 at 6:09 PM
    Something about the idea presented in this article is just wrong, and we should all oppose everything the people in this article stand for. I dont know what, or why, but I'm sure Libertarion, Republican, and Someone you may know, will soon be here to tell us.
  • Jon Phoenix Brookstone on November 1, 2006 at 9:10 PM
    CONGRADULATIONS ABISHEK!!!!! This is a real honor. GOOD LUCK!!!! and I hope you have fun. :)
  • same page on November 2, 2006 at 8:39 AM
    dear outraged,
    i love you
  • capn crunch (View Email) on November 2, 2006 at 5:00 PM
    why should we be opposed to anything in this article? I don't see how bringing attention to the struggles of ESOL students in regards to standardized tests is wrong in any way. These students have to deal with their limited knowledge of English when taking tests to measure their aptitude in English, writing, math, biology, or government. Bringing public attention to this issue is in no way shape or form wrong, and the only thing I'm outraged about is that you're outraged over this. Limited knowledge of a second language doesn't make you any less intelligent, and considering the diversity of our country I'm surprised problems like this haven't had more media coverage. Great article, SCO.
  • nice on November 6, 2006 at 8:46 PM
    hopefully this panel meeting will get things accomplished, because the current situation is very unfair to ESOL students. Imaging moving to a foreign country and trying to pass their standardized tests.
  • Someone you may know on November 8, 2006 at 9:11 PM
    Wow, I feel honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as Republican and Libertarian. Although not quite in the same context as them, but oh well, I will take it as a compliment.

    I personally agree with Sinha, ESOL students should have a different exam due to the fact they are now learning English while most of the regular students have known English for over ten years.
  • Same page, again on November 9, 2006 at 7:48 AM
    Clearly Outraged is being sarcastic because no matter what the article is about someone has a problem with it
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