Re: “The small liberal arts college where I work is discussing what to do when extended exam time is requested by a student whose strongest language is not English." c) ways of assessing whether somebody is processing English more slowly. John Atella, Duluth ISD709.
Could your institution consider having an interpreter or a second reader to assist her during exam. Could you be the upper-hand who can take the initiative to discuss this matter with the Dean. The consideration to allow for such an accommodation for this special sub-group of students is very valid. Their struggle due to language deficiencies and other factors are reality situations for them. You have mentioned assessment, we have to educate these language learners from an angle of what they already know and don’t know—and what they can do in the classroom. ---------------------MerriLee LeonardM.A.Ed., TESLUniversity TeacherUnited States-----------------------
"most second language writers are still in the process of acquiring syntactic and lexical competence—a process that will take a lifetime"(CCCCs 2014)Miller (2014 dissertation) suggests that extra exam time of less than 50% may be appropriate for some ESL students at the college levelTemmant (2010) says "ESL students require more time than native English speakers to process, learn, and remember concepts from academic texts. ESL students describe their language-related problems in testing in terms of their academic language skills, or what Cummins (1980) calls cognitive/academic language proficiency . . . Although these students have obtained a level of <g class="gr_ gr_35 gr-alert gr_spell gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="35" data-gr-id="35">secondlanguage</g> proficiency that gained them university entrance, their comments reveal that they do not assess themselves to be adequately proficient in academic language use—below a threshold of adequate academic language proficiency—to demonstrate accurately or consistently their content knowledge on tests."
Being an English Language Learner is NOT a recognized disability category under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Colleges are not legally obligated to provide accommodations under ADA. Of course faculty can give whatever unofficial accommodations they want to if it's for a classroom test instead of a high stakes standardized test. In my classes tests are designed to be completed well within the allotted period, so that the test measures skill and not speeded performance. Extra time would not confer any additional benefit except to those whose disability (official or otherwise/ELL) limits their ability to access the test.
Acquiring an additional language is not, and never should be, considered a disability. By logical extension, every student in every language classroom around the world, every visitor or expat in another country, every immigrant, etc. would be classified as having a language disability. Clearly, this is ludicrous. Extended time allowing for the additional mental activity of working in one's second, third, whichever language, is a recognized accommodation in public schools throughout the United States. In New State, any student who has scored proficient on the annual English proficiency exam is still eligible for another two years for extended time, access to a bilingual glossary or dictionary, and other accommodations on midterm and final exams. Even the ACT exam is implementing a policy of extended time for English Language Learners, an idea it is hoped that the Advanced Placement exams will also soon adopt. I cannot speak for institutions of higher learning as most of my ESOL teaching career has been in public education, but I have difficulty imagining how an individual's learning and thinking might change so greatly from high school graduation to freshman year in college as to not benefit or need the at minimum consideration of extended time or other accommodations.Sincerely,
Annela Teemant from Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 10 No. 3, November 2010 89-105