Voices Vol 41 No 2


A New Initiative — Beyond a Score

By Monica Schnee

Iwould like to share a new initiative that I started this year. In order to avoid testing craziness for students and parents alike, I invited the parents to an ACCESS Test Meeting. The purpose was to reassure them about what the test means in terms of language proficiency, what their children are asked to do, and what the scores mean for their children’s placement for the following year.

I put together a very short Power Point: 7 slides including title. I also had a handout for each parent and the WIDA MODEL Test to show and remind parents that most of their children had already experienced taking a similar test, except for the Reading and Writing parts, when they were placed in the program.

Since we are dealing with Kindergarten, I stressed that the Reading and Writing, though part of the test, do not show language acquisition at this grade level but they show skills. I made it very clear that the score, no matter what, was just one of the considerations for exiting. I explained that we are very lucky in New Jersey to have multiple exit criteria.

Parents had fifteen minutes for questions and answers at the end of the presentation. The top 4 questions follow:

• How can I prepare my child for the test?

• What happens if my child speaks well but can't read?

• What happens if my child reads perfectly but doesn't speak as well?

• Does my child not pass if he does not spell correctly?

Here is the last slide of the presentation that shows you how important it is for parents to understand what we do as ESL professionals:

What can I do to help my child?

• Make sure that your child is well rested.

• Do not make a big thing out of the test.

• Do not put pressure on your child and tell them that they have to pass — there is no passing score.

• Explain to your child that this test does not measure how smart they are but how much English they have learned up to now.

• Understand that this is just a tool to help us find out where your child is.

Please remember to join me for our SIG Meeting at the Spring Conference with questions, success stories, tips and concerns. Times are below, room TBC.
5/30/12  - 11:45 am – 12:45  5/30/12 – 12:15pm – 1:15pm

Please feel free to bring your lunch if that means missing the meeting.
Monica Schnee is the Bilingual/ESL Early childhood / Pre-K - K Representatives, River Edge School District. She may be reached at mschnee@njtesol-njbe.org

Reminders and updates

If your district does not have a Parent Advisory Committee, please look into it. As per the Bilingual Code, every district should have one. Our committee is very active: we have worked with Special Area teachers, classroom teachers, and parents from the PTO to organize a wonderful Lunar New Year Celebration.
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