EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letters are written by Foster High School students. Students from Carrie Stradle’s ELL class were tasked to write persuasive letters that are of interest to the Tukwila community.
My name is Thang Suan Khual. I’m from Burma I’m writing today as an 11th grader at Foster High School and a member of the Tukwila community. Many students at Foster believe that they cannot graduate from high school. Even more students who have studied English for their entire life feel they won’t be able to graduate because there’s no chance to pass the state test. Let’s think for ELL students. There’s no way or hope to graduate from high school. Even though they are working hard to graduate from high school, most of the ELL students would have to take an extra year — or “super senior” year, — and that really wastes their time. State graduation tests like Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium should be eliminated for ELL students.
One reason the state test should be eliminated is that many ELL students have to stay another year in order to try and graduate. For example, I had a friend from Foster who completed all his credits but he couldn’t pass the state test so he need to stay for one more year. That’s wasting his time. Students who stay another year in order to try to graduate are wasting their time and they lose their opportunity to go to college with his/her peers or get a job.
Another reason why the state test should be eliminated for ELL students is that for ELL students, the test is not a test of knowledge, rather it is a test of English levels.
To illustrate, research shows that it takes four to seven years to learn academic English. A student who just starts learning English for one or two years struggles and therefore cannot pass the state test. To learn academic English, it is very challenging. The lack of education makes it impossible to pass the state test because the state test is created for someone who learned English for their entire lives.
That also impacts the graduation of ELL students.
According to a NPR article, only 53.8 percent of ELL students in Washington state are graduating while 78.2 percent of students who learned English for their entire lives are graduating. This fact is shocking for the state. Education leaders must think about the impact about the students’ lives. People who support state testing requirements for ELL students might say, ‘If they don’t take the test they are not showing us their knowledge.’ However, this argument has no value as a demonstration of their knowledge. If they want kids to show their knowledge, the state should test them in their native language.
To conclude, Washington state should eliminate states tests for ELL students in order to give them a fair chance to graduate from high school. Not only would it save the student time, it would also make it equal between ELL and students who have been learning English for their entire lives. I urge you to consider canceling state test for ELL students.
Thang Suan Khual