Walfrank Piñeiro
Wekiva High School junior Walfrank Piñeiro shows off some of the awards he has won, on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. Walfrank, who has been in the United States after moving from Cuba about two years ago, is an honor roll student and star pitcher for his high school. An academic mentor of his thinks he would have passed if the test (FCAT) was translated into Spanish, as about a dozen other states do. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Orlando Sentinel)

Walfrank Piñeiro has been on the honor roll every semester since emigrating from Cuba two years ago. He's earned awards for academic excellence at the school, district and state level.
Despite the accolades, the 15-year-old has been unable to pass state exams in math, his strongest subject. He recently failed a retake of the crucial Algebra I exam by three points.
He has been tripped up repeatedly by word problems that educators concede measure reading as much as math skills.
"I think it should be just numbers," the Wekiva High junior said of the algebra test, which is a Florida graduation requirement. "We're talking about math."
In Florida, more than 250,000 students like Walfrank are considered English-language learners, third nationally behind California and Texas. But Texas and more than a dozen other states give students a chance to take state exams in their native language.

"These tests are not measuring, to the full extent, the students' knowledge of the content," said Charlene Rivera, research professor and executive director ofGeorge Washington University's Center for Equity and Excellence in Education.
As Florida and most other states head toward a shared curriculum called Common Core, parents, advocates and experts are pushing for new tests that will reflect what these students know more accurately than state exams like Florida's FCAT. The League of United Latin American Citizens, a national group, wants Spanish versions of these tests to be developed at the same time.
Federal law requires states to test nearly every English-language learner except those who have been in the