(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblywoman Marlene Caride sponsored to help connect high-performing non-native English speakers to resources that can foster their academic potential was recently signed into law.
Because tests that screen for advanced intellectual ability typically are offered only in English, gifted and talented programs often inadvertently exclude gifted students who have not yet mastered the English language, Caride said.
“Too often, students with exceptional intellectual capabilities are overlooked because of their limited ability to express themselves in English. The reality, however, is that these students typically can read and write at an advanced level in their native languages, excel at mathematics and are adept at learning a new language and culture,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Just as their peers who grew up speaking English at home have opportunities to explore more advanced academic pursuits, gifted English language learners should be identified and placed in programs that suit their level of intelligence.”
The new law (formerly bill A-4175) requires the commissioner of the Department of Education to develop guidance for school districts on identifying English language learners for gifted and talented programs.
Under the new law, the commissioner’s guidance will assist districts in identifying gifted English language learners in grades kindergarten through 12 in an effort to reduce the underrepresentation of this student population in gifted and talented programs. The guidance will include information on: recognizing and addressing potential challenges in the process of identifying gifted English language learners; the use of multiple methods and measures in assessing the eligibility of English language learners for gifted and talented programs; and the importance of professional development and collaboration among teachers in the identification process, including teachers of English language learner programs, teachers of gifted and talented programs and general classroom teachers.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Education Committee, of which Caride is chair last November and approved by the Assembly, 74-0, in March. The bill was signed into law on Friday, July 21.