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School Districts Sue State Over English-Only Tests

Sacramento, CA — Ten school districts are suing the state, claiming that students who aren´t fluent in English should be tested in their native languages.

The federal No Child Left Behind act requires all schools to show that their students are improving each year, with a goal of having every child proficient in reading and math by 2014.

The school districts and two bilingual-education groups say the 1.6 million English learners and their schools are being penalized because a test given only in English doesn´t measure how well nonnative speakers understand the subject matter.

The school districts say the federal law also requires the state to test English learners in their primary language if that is the best way to measure their academic skills.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court and names Governor Schwarzenegger and top education officials.

State education officials say they haven´t seen the lawsuit yet. Department of Education spokeswoman Hilary McLean says the standardized tests are a key way to measure whether students are learning, including whether they are learning English.

She says there have been accommodations for English learners, such as not counting their test scores until they have been in California schools for more than a year.

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