Wednesday, October 19, 2005

State Superintendent comments on the low test scores

Jack O'connel. Superintendent of Public Instruction.

"Unlike our statewide assessments, NAEP is not aligned to the content taught in California’s classrooms and, therefore, is not as sensitive to changes in student achievement as our California Standards Tests. Unlike the California STAR assessments, average scale scores and other results from NAEP contain sampling error, so it takes a greater increase in achievement to register as significant on NAEP. Results on our statewide tests, which are aligned to our rigorous standards, indicate that a focus on high expectations is leading to steady gains in student achievement.

[ translation ]
We like the state test scores better. The test writers are the same people who write the text books.

"There is some positive news in the results. For example, California Hispanic students who are not English learners have made significant gains in reading and math, and the gap between those students and white students has narrowed. Score gaps among black and white students and economically disadvantaged students have also narrowed, even as the proportion of economically disadvantaged students has steadily increased.
"California’s poor showing relative to other states in reading is at least in part due to the fact that California has the highest proportion of English learners in the nation and also that we assessed a higher proportion of our English learner students than any other state. While California excluded 12 percent of its English learner students from the 2005 NAEP reading assessment, Texas’ exclusion rate, for example, was 37.5 percent, and New York’s, 29 percent.

We don’t want to talk about the reality that we have been promising that our rigid reading program designed for English speakers does not seem to be working. We will just keep making positive statements because we know we are correct. And besides, who needs reading anyway?

"California policymakers believe it is important to test all students regardless of their challenges, and we have stuck to high standards and expectations for all students. The result is that our state doesn’t fare as well as we’d like on some national comparisons, but our students are better served if we hold high standards and gather more complete data. If we continue to focus on California’s rigorous standards in the classroom we can expect the achievement gains seen on our state tests to be reflected on the next NAEP assessments."

Our rigorous standards have not improved reading scores for the last 8 years, but we know they will in the future.

Note, the reading materials and the reading programs in California have not been modified to adapt to non English speaking students. This is the over application of Prop. 227.
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