Should ELL students be exempt from taking the SAT?


The SAT is a very stressful time for juniors especially. With the stress from the day mounting for teens, all kids are feeling the heat, yet one group is especially challenged. Teens originally from non English speaking countries face additional challenges on standardized testing.

In the U.S there is a variety of cultures. In our community we have people who come from different countries and some of those people are in the ELL program 

“Yo nací en Venezuela, Estado Zulia,” Juan Pablo Guanipa said, a Junior in the English Language Learners program. “Llevo aproximadamente 3 años y medio aquí.”

“I was born in Venezuela, Estado Zulia,” Juan Pablo Guanipa said. “I’ve been here for approximately 3 and a half years.”

There are a variety of teachers who teach English as a second language who try to help as much as possible. Yet, there is only so much help teachers can offer their ELL students. 

“My role is to try to make it as easy and as pleasant as possible, even though we know the SAT isn’t pleasant for anyone,” ELL teacher Missy Winternitz said, “[These students] are incredibly bright in [their] native language. My job is to investigate and dig deep on how to get you to show that knowledge.”

 There are multiple disadvantages for ELL students when taking the SAT, because if one learns everything in one language then they have to take a very important test in a completely different language.

“Yo creo que si debo de tomar el SAT solo debería de ver unas ayudas,” Guanipa said. “En mi opinión hay una desventaja para mi siendo que no puedo tomar el examen así de importante en español.”

“I agree with taking the SAT, just that there should be some extra help,” Guanipa said. “In my opinion, there is the disadvantage that I can’t take the test in Spanish.”

Teachers offered the solution of letting ELL students have a dictionary with them.

“Circling those words on your test that you have no idea about so they can quickly page through that dictionary and find it to make a connection and answer [that question] correctly, Winternitz said. 

Teachers offered ELL students a dictionary in their native language to help them during the SAT, yet some do not believe it will offer any advantages. 

“Si un diccionario pero no hay una ayuda que me beneficie porque pierdo mucho tiempo buscando la palabra,” Guanipa said. “Pienso que no se me hace justo que tengo que forzarme más y que me tenga que evaluar como los demás.”

“Yes a dictionary but it doesn’t benefit me because I waste a lot of time looking for the word,” Guanipa said. “I think it’s not fair that I have to work twice as hard but still be graded like everybody else.”

Teachers as well believe there should be some other way for ELL students to take the SAT. 

“I think that you guys should be allowed to translate it,” Winternitz said. “You guys are beautiful, amazing, complex people. A test does not show your knowledge and [measure the] skills and knowledge you guys bring to school everyday.”

Students think there should be another version of the test available in their native language in order to make it fair for everybody

“Sí totalmente, porque como una universidad no va a saber mi potencial sin saber que inglés no es mi primera lengua,” Guanipa said. “También no es fácil analizar un examen sin saber totalmente lo que dice.” 

“Yes completely, because a university won’t know my full potential and they don’t know that english is not my first language,” Guanipa said. 

“It’s not easy to analyze and take a test without knowing completely what it says.”