Literacy

AP, Sun Aug 3, 9:22 PM ET

LAWRENCE, Mass. - This city's superintendent of schools, who recently put two dozen teachers on unpaid leave for failing a basic English proficiency test, has himself flunked a required literacy test three times.

Wilfredo T. Laboy called his failing scores "frustrating" and "emotional." He blamed his performance on a lack of preparation and concentration, as well as the fact that that Spanish is his first language.

"It bothers me because I'm trying to understand the congruence of what I do here every day and this stupid test," Laboy told The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence in a story published Sunday.

"What brought me down was the rules of grammar and punctuation," Laboy said. "English being a second language for me, I didn't do well in writing. If you're not an English teacher, you don't look at the rules on a regular basis."

State Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll said he is aware of Laboy's troubles with the test, but would not say how many chances Laboy would be given to pass or what the consequences of another failure could be.

He said Laboy was doing an excellent job leading the district, and is getting more time to prepare for the test. But he added, "He's going to have to pass. ... The situation will only get serious if he goes much longer without passing."

Since 1998, all Massachusetts educators from teachers to superintendents have had to pass the Communications and Literacy Skills Test, which measures basic reading and writing skills, including vocabulary, punctuation, grammar, spelling and capitalization.

Laboy, who receives a 3 percent pay hike this month that will raise his salary to $156,560, recently put 24 teachers on unpaid administrative leave because they failed a basic English test.