Wednesday, April 18, 2007

California High School Exit Exam and ELL

English Learners and the State Exit Exam
Sent to the Ventura County Star, April 17, 2007

California State Superintendent of Instruction Jack
O’Connell is “deeply concerned” that students
classified as English Learners did not do as well as
other groups on the State High School Exit Exam (“More
seniors are passing state exit exam,” April 17).

Half of the test is English Language Arts. It has a
reading section and a writing section, which includes
an essay. According to the Department of Education
website, statewide, for all grades combined, 28% of
those considered to be English Learners passed the
English Language Arts part of the test in 2006.
Overall, 61% passed. Statistics for Ventura County are
similar, with 30% of English Learners passing, and 60%
overall.

This is no surprise. Students are classified as
English Learners because they have not yet acquired
enough English to succeed in school. If they are able
to pass an exam that demands a high level of
competence in English, they should not be considered
English Learners.

The low passing rate for this group simply confirms
that the classification system is accurate.

Stephen Krashen
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