When students prove graduation readiness in less common languages such as Tongan and Thai, they have the benefit of graduating and continuing their studies without worrying about obstacles presented by testing conducted in their new language of English.
Jiahui “Johnny” Ma remembered his first days of school in Portland, Oregon, and how nervous he was. He barely spoke English, and his family was newly arrived from China.
“I just sat there in the classroom and didn’t talk to anybody,” he said.
When it came time for him to pass Oregon’s state tests, he had additional challenges. He understood the math exam, but the tests for reading and writing were difficult. He did a lot of guessing.
When a teacher told him that the work could be done in his native language, he felt like nothing would stand in his way. The option of testing in a student’s native language is available to qualifying Oregon students new to the USA.
“You don’t need to worry about that much because (you) use your first language,” Ma said. “You just feel so good.”
Ma’s next step after his recent graduation from Franklin High is to study international business at Portland Community College.