Change in HSA policy could hurt ESOL students

March 16, 2005, midnight | By Grace Harter | 16 years, 10 months ago

ESOL teachers say students may be unprepared for the tests

The new policy requiring students to pass the High School Assessment (HSA) tests before graduating high school may affect ESOL students negatively. These students may be barred from graduating because of their limited knowledge of English, according to ESOL director Joseph Bellino.

ESOL teachers are already planning methods to help their students pass. "We are taking the move very seriously," said ESOL teacher Ailish Zompa. "We are boosting the rigor in classes." She indicated that ESOL students may go to school for longer periods of time and go through intense preparatory courses before taking the HSA tests.

Despite all their efforts, some ESOL students still might not be able to graduate, said Bellino. Students should be able to do well in geometry, biology and algebra, "[but] English is a different story. [In ESOL], we spend a lot of time with foundation activities," he said. Students may not be able to grasp the nuances and complexities of the English language enough to pass the HSA test, according to Bellino.

Students are placed in ESOL levels depending on ability, not on age. Some students in higher levels may be able to pass the HSAs without a problem, but older students in lower levels may not be taught material tested on the HSAs before their senior year, according to Bellino.

"The state realizes there is an issue here," said Bellino. "[But] they don't know how to deal with it." Bellino thinks school administrators may wait to see ESOL students' scores before taking any action or implementing a new policy.

Students must take HSAs for English, algebra, NSL government and biology. Starting in 2009, students are required to pass the HSAs before graduating. If a student doesn't pass an HSA test, he or she is given academic assistance and allowed a retake, according to the Maryland Public Schools web site.

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Grace Harter. Grace Harter is currently a CAP senior at Blair. She loves anything British, books, music, movies and of course Silver Chips Online. She'd like to close with a quote from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that is especially profound (and makes reference to her ultimate favorite … More »

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