High-stakes testing and heritage language maintenance

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This chapter discusses the impact of the current testing-driven educational policies on heritage language (HL) maintenance by language minority (particularly, East Asian) students. High-stakes testing has come to exert a growing pressure on American education since the passage of the <i>No Child Left Behind Act </i>(NCLB), which holds schools accountable for the academic progress of all students through annual testing in reading and math in grades 3 through 8. Under NCLB, there are heavy penalties for schools that do not demonstrate immigrant students’ rapid acquisition of English and continuous improvement in standardized test scores. The law’s exclusive focus on English is likely todiscourage the development of languages other than English. This chapter describes the effects of such policies on HL maintenance through interviews ofparents, ESL and HL teachers, and offers suggestions for raising public awareness of the value of HLs despite the pressures.


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