English Learners Left Behind: Standardized Testing as Language Policy by Kate Menken

English Learners Left Behind: Standardized Testing as Language Policy

Kate Menken
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  • ISBN
    9781853599972 / 1853599972
  • Title English Learners Left Behind: Standardized Testing as Language Policy
  • Author Kate Menken
  • Category Bilingualism & Multilingualism
    Examinations & Assessment
  • Format
  • Year 2008
  • Pages 207
  • Publisher
    Multilingual Matters Limited
  • Imprint Multilingual Matters
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 145mm x 15mm x 208mm


This book explores how high-stakes tests mandated by No Child Left Behind have become de facto language policy in U.S. schools, detailing how testing has shaped curriculum and instruction, and the myriad ways that tests are now a defining force in the daily lives of English Language Learners and the educators who serve them.

Publisher Description

In the wake of recent federal legislation entitled No Child Left Behind, high-stakes standardized testing for accountability purposes is being emphasized in educational systems across the U.S. for all students - including English Language Learners (ELLs). Yet language proficiency mediates test performance, so ELLs typically receive scores far below those of other students. This book explores how tests have become de facto language policy in schools, shaping what is taught in school, how it is taught, and in what language(s) it is taught. In New York City, while most schools responded to testing by increasing the amount of English instruction offered to ELLs, a few schools have preserved native language instruction instead. Moreover, this research documents how tests are a defining force in the daily lives of ELLs and the educators who serve them.

Educating students who speak languages other than those recognized by school authorities is a most important issue. As the students' linguistic diversity has increased, educational authorities around the world have instituted high-stakes assessments that in effect push out language minority students. But there are few accounts of the effects of these assessments in the lives of students and their teachers. Menken's book is an exception. Written in elegant prose and with an abudance of scholarly data, Menken brings to light the tensions between top-down assessment policies and the ways in which teachers, as well as students, negotiate them. Focusing on the U.S. context, this important book is of relevance to anyone thinking about the relationship between school assessment and educational processes and practices throughout the world. Professor Ofelia Garcia, Program in Bilingual/Bicultural Education ,Teachers College, Columbia University,English Learners Left Behind is an outstanding, albeit troubling, study of how language policy is made in the surreal world of American education. As the first scholar to exhaustively document the pernicious effects of high-stakes testing for ELL students, Kate Menken has performed an invaluable service for both children and educators. All U.S. politicians should be required to read her book - and pass a test on it - before voting on misguided legislation like No Child Left Behind.James Crawford, President, Institute for Language and Education Policy

Author Biography

Kate Menken is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), and a Research Fellow at the Research Institute for the Study of Language in an Urban Society at the CUNY Graduate Center. Previously, she was a teacher of English as a second language.

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English Learners Left Behind: Standardized Testing as Language Policy