February 16, 2010
Home-Language Surveys for ELLs Under Fire
By Mary Ann Zehr
A growing chorus of people are saying that some school districts are overzealous in categorizing students as English-language learners in the aim of complying with federal and state laws to ensure that children of immigrants get extra help with English. They contend that the information requested on the home-language survey that parents are commonly asked to fill out when they enroll their child in a public school can be misleading or misused.
Christina Chum, a parent of a 5th grader in Orange County, Fla., for example, says her son was mistakenly categorized as an ELL after she said on a home-language survey that Spanish was sometimes spoken in their home. She’s asked district officials to lift the label for her son, whose first and primary language is English, but she says they tell her state law doesn’t permit them to do so, unless her son proves on a test that he knows English.
In Orange County and many other districts across the country, once a student is designated as an ELL, the label is not readily lifted. Read on here.