, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 267-284
Date: 21 Aug 2008

Marginalizing English as a second language teacher expertise: The exclusionary consequence of No Child Left Behind

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No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2001) fails to recognize English as a second language (ESL) as a specialized academic discipline in which teachers should be “highly qualified.” In this paper we examine the impact of this policy failure on the practice of teachers of K-12 English language learners (ELLs), particularly in the context of reading instruction governed by Reading First under NCLB. We draw on teachers’ perspectives through interviews conducted with 52 ESL teachers addressing the impact of NCLB in Florida schools. Findings include the devaluing of ESL teacher expertise and instructional roles, and the homogenization of curriculum, instruction, and assessment of ELLs whose needs disappear in the mainstream educational setting. We recommend that re-authorization of NCLB, future state legislation and district policies explicitly acknowledge the distinct linguistic, cultural, and academic learning characteristics of ELLs and the specialized professional knowledge and skills required for teachers who are highly qualified to teach them.