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MSU study finds English language test is negatively affecting some Michigan school children

In 2011, nearly 70,000 Michigan school children who speak English as a second language had to take a special test of their English language skills. A new Michigan State University study says that test is causing unintended problems for those students.   

The English Language Proficiency Assessment is intended to identify which students may need help learning English as their second language.

But MSU researcher Paula Winke says the way the test is administered often confuses new students and very young students who have trouble understanding why they are being forced to prove they understand English.  

“The consequences can be dire for those who are on the fence about staying in school," says Winke.  

Winke says many students become so distraught over having to take the test every year they see it as a personal stigma. Winke says many English as a second language classes are put on hold during the five to eight weeks the test is being administered.    

The ELPA testing is connected to federal education reform programs.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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