The narrative is what has to change, alongside narrative power. Both simultaneously. That is, we all must open ourselves to the wide, breathtaking diversity of experience, knowledge, and ways of knowing at the same time that we must honor the specific journeys that our communities have to take in their process, in their unfolding.
Are Florida tests unfair to non-English-speaking students? Some say yes
Lost in Translation
Despite the accolades, the 15-year-old has been unable to pass state exams in math, his strongest subject. He recently failed a retake of the crucial Algebra I exam by three points.
"I think it should be just numbers," the Wekiva High junior said of the algebra test, which is a Florida graduation requirement. "We're talking about math."
In Florida, more than 250,000 like Walfrank are considered English-language learners, third nationally behind California and Texas. But Texas and more than a dozen other states give students a chance to take state exams in their native language.
"These tests are not measuring, to the full extent, the students' knowledge of the content," said Charlene Rivera, research professor and of George Washington University's Center for Equity and Excellence in Education.
As Florida and most other states head toward a shared curriculum called Common Core, parents, advocates and experts are pushing for new tests that will reflect what these students know more accurately than state exams like Florida's FCAT. The League of United Latin American Citizens, a national group, wants Spanish versions of these tests to be developed at the same time.
requires states to test nearly every English-language learner except those who have been in the country less than a year. And while Florida gives extra credit to districts where new English learners improve performance, the consequences of depressed scores can snowball to the school and district level.
Last year, 91 percent of English-language learners in Florida and in Orange County failed the 10th Grade Reading FCAT — including Walfrank Piñero. This is not a new problem. State shows Florida's English-language learners have been struggling in English and math since at least 2004.
But the stakes are high for the state's 2.7 million English learners, including about 43,000 in Central Florida. Statewide, about 1 in 4 Hispanic students is considered an English learner.
Last year, a task force convened by the state Board of Education recommended changing the state's grading system to factor students' English proficiency levels into FCAT results. The recommendation was not .
The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires states to test students in the language most likely to "yield valid results," when possible.