In March, when public schools across Louisiana will administer the state’s Common Core-aligned standardized tests, students will be able to take the tests in either English or Spanish.
The computer-based tests, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), have two portions: Math and, of course, English language arts and literacy.
Louisiana’s superintendent of education, John White, said newly-arrived, Spanish-speaking immigrants who speak little or no English will be able to take the PARCC assessment in Spanish during the first two years they are enrolled in a Louisiana public school, The Times-Picayune reports.
After two years, the students must begin taking the annual tests in English.
The new policy is a response to a recent flood of illegal immigrant students into Louisiana. Most of these new students have come from Central America.
Since October 2013, over 50,000 “unaccompanied children” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have crossed America’s porous Southern border to claim green cards via the immigration courts. Federal officials have chosen to set aside normal immigration practices and to allow this wave of young illegal immigrants to apply for asylum and to disperse across the country. (RELATED: Feds Force Public Schools To Enroll Illegal Immigrant Children With No Medical Screening)
The federal government have placed more than 1,200 children in homes throughout Louisiana.
Deportation hearings for the illegal immigrant kids could take over a year even to schedule, notes The Times-Picayune.
States with large immigrant populations — including California and New York — have offered standardized tests in Spanish for several years. This year marks a first for the practice in Louisiana, however.
The Common Core Standards Initiative and the intensive standardized tests that accompany it are a hot-button issue in Louisiana. Gov. Bobby Jindal has been engaged in an increasingly complex battle against Common Core. Late last month, he sued the federal government — again — over the education standards claiming that the government, by using federal education grants to encourage the standards’ adoption, has illegally infringed upon states’ sovereignty in the area of education. (RELATED: Jindal Suing Feds Over Common Core)
Over the summer, Jindal sued to block White and Louisiana’s education establishment to prevent the purchase of PARCC tests — in any language. He lost, but is appealing.
Since last autumn, proponents of Common Core have taken a brutal beating in the court of public opinion and in state legislatures across America. A handful of states have either neutered or — in the case of Oklahoma — banned Common Core. Legislatures in several more states are mulling bills that would limit the controversial national standards.
In September 2013, PARCC’s governing board approved the translation of its math and English language arts tests into other languages including, most prominently, Spanish.