Immigrant students who pass New York’s Regents exam in English still can’t get out of segregated English as a Second Language classes, writes Samuel Freedman in the NY Times. They need 96 percent on the exit exam, which seems designed to keep students out of the mainstream forever. In theory, they get extra help in English as a Second Language classes. In practice, they get a slower, lower-level curriculum.
To put the disconnect between tests in human terms, consider Shoeb Mahbub, an immigrant from Bangladesh who graduated from Richmond Hill last year in the top 20 of more than 400 seniors. In high school, he read Steinbeck, Shakespeare and Machiavelli. He scored 89 on the English Regents. He earned admission to City College’s pre-med program. Yet he failed the E.S.L. test and was barred from taking a mainstream English class.
The same fate befell Kamil Losiewicz, an immigrant from Poland who is now a pre-med student at Queens College. “It’s really frustrating,” he said. “The amount of education I received wasn’t as high at it could have been. The reading assignments, the writing assignments in E.S.L. were really easy. I wanted writing at a high level, something that would help me in college. And by being with people in E.S.L. who don’t speak English well, it definitely kept me from speaking at a high level.”
No other exam taken by high school students sets the minimum passing score at 96 percent.