Students who are native speakers of languages other than English in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire soon will begin taking a new standardized test designed to prove their understanding of English is improving.
The new test has five levels, and a student eventually must pass all five to be considered proficient. Maine will assess about 3,200 students from kindergarten through grade 12, New Hampshire about 3,500, and Vermont about 1,200.
Students assessed will include the children of immigrants, adopted children and the children of foreign workers.
Christine Noon, a New Hampshire Department of Education consultant for English as a second language, said the test would monitor student progress toward meeting education requirements adopted throughout New England.
“We really needed something that aligned with academic standards,” Noon said. “This is one test that is based on standards. It’s not like the standards have been retrofitted to the test.”
The test was designed by a 10-state consortium and has oral and written components. It will be administered this spring in Maine, Vermont and Alabama. New Hampshire education officials will administer the test in 2006.
If too few students improve, a school could lose federal money, be forced to notify parents about the failure and even be forced to allow students to enroll elsewhere, said Barney Berube with the Maine Department of Education.
Most schools already are required to use their own assessments to judge how well students are learning English. But since the federal No Child Left Behind Act was signed in 2002, such schools have been held accountable for those results.
The new test won’t replace the other standardized tests given to Maine students.