A bilingual education for a monolingual test? The pressure to prepare for TAKS and its influence on choices for language of instruction in Texas elementary bilingual classrooms
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- Palmer, D. & Lynch, A.W. Lang Policy (2008) 7: 217. doi:10.1007/s10993-008-9100-0
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A tension exists for teachers in Texas bilingual third and fifth grade classrooms between state and local bilingual education policy, which encourages them to transition students gradually from Spanish into English instruction while providing bilingual support; and state and federal accountability policy, which requires them to choose a single language for each child’s high-stakes test. Interview data from teachers in six Texas elementary schools suggest that the high-stakes Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), a test offered in both English and Spanish in 3rd–6th grades and used for school and district rankings at both state and federal levels, drives teachers’ decisions with regards to language of instruction for their students. We argue that children who test in Spanish will be taught in Spanish, with little attention to the transition process until the testing pressures are lifted; children who test in English will be taught in English, with little attention to the support in their primary language that may determine their ability to succeed on a test in their second language.