It’s 2009. A high school student in a fine school district describes how classmates get disability diagnoses in order to take the SAT with extended time. The student asked the parents to be taken for testing. They refused.

What a sad chapter in the college application saga. It followed the College Board’s 2002 policy. The College Board no longer flags SAT scores. Thus, no one (such as a college admissions office) is told how SAT scores are achieved and which ones were achieved under the nonstandard condition of 50% or more extra time!

This all reminds me of the March 31, 2006 ABC News story. It reported on this very situation, ways that some students get extended time on the SAT (and ACT), calling it ‘the rich kids’ loophole.’

This ABC News piece grew out of a story I wrote back in 2003, ‘Disabling the SAT.’ It described how the College Board decided to allow extended time on the SAT without marking the fact that the test had been altered. Henceforth, there would no longer be any flag to indicate that the test was not given under standard conditions and no one would know! It was a new day, ending test validity and transparency.

Among its many flaws, the College Board’s policy belies transparency. How ironic, since ‘transparency’ is everyone’s favorite word these days, from Wall Street to the schoolhouse.

You can find the story on my website,, or at

Sam Abrams did a follow-up on the unflagged SATs, focused on Washington DC.

This turn of events in the college application saga is so sad, unfair, and totally lacking in transparency.

You may enjoy seeing these stories.

In case you missed it, excellent front page story–

Another thought about this. We now have about 1 in 10 students in US schools classified as English language learners! A huge increase of 60% between 1995-2005. Yet, schools are confused about how to teach these students and prepare them for life…. Policies are all over the place–no consensus nationally about how to tackle this challenge. And, in terms of long-range results, the story is not clear.

I still believe in immersion. See my last blog.

As well, the article mentions the use of accommodations for students on state tests–teachers reading test questions orally and recording student answers (so they don’t have to write them). I wonder: do these accommodations help students? or just lead to good scores on standardized tests. You decide.

The front page piece is at:

My thoughts? Immersion in regular schools works. As a foreigner in a strange land four times (twice for me and twice for my children) having to learn a new language fast, I can tell you that immersion works best. Consider, in fifth grade in New Jersey in the 1950’s, I have been forever grateful that my teachers did not speak any Dutch. I learned English fast. As an immigrant to Holland two years earlier, I had learned Dutch fast–immersion in a regular school. As an adult, when my own children had a chance to learn French, my oldest went to a regular high school and learned French fast. The younger child was put into a separate elementary school class for French learners and learned far less French or anything else!

I have learned that children want to learn, make friends and fit in. Let them go. They will learn. Immersion works.

Your thoughts?


There’s so much to write on this question–millenia of experiences–so I will resist the urge and just add a couple of ideas.

Yesterday, I visited a California charter school. It was lovely. It had great programs, students, teachers. Everything there seemedto be working on all cylinders.

During the tour, the elementary school principal then told us, “If I could get moms to put them to bed early.”



If… moms and dads would talk to their kids, what a huge difference that would make for children in school.

There is lots of research on this. If parents talk to children–about anything and everything–that experience makes a huge difference for children in school, especially for reading, vocabulary, readiness for learning.

See several examples:

And from the Nataional Institute for Literacy

And across the pond, see this BBC report on the importance of talking with children.

If…moms and dads would feed kids good stuff, and not just donut holes, sugars, and more carbs!

If…to quote our President, moms and dads would turn off the televisions and computers and help kids to do their homework.



If…what would you add?

Panel IV: Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners — Play Audio Podcast
(mp3 44.4 mb), Running Time: 49 minutes
Daniel Domenech: Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators
Miriam Freedman: Attorney and Author
Sharif Shakrani: Professor, Michigan State University
Martha Thurlow: Director, National Center on Educational Outcomes
(moderator) Mary Blanton: Attorney

Reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and RESILIENCY!

That word, resiliency, has popped up in many conversations recently. In following my ears, I’m wondering how we foster resiliency in our students.

What are we doing to help students be resilient–to overcome difficulty; to see the sun on the other side; to become active learners; to move from “victim to victor” per Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., book, “Come on People.” See earlier blog on that one!

I Googled “resiliency in children.” Check it out. Lots of good stuff.

You may also wish to visit the following website, dealing with resiliency in adults.

Yes, let’s move resiliency to the top of the class and make it the ‘4th R!’

Got ideas? Please share!