Tuesday, August 25, 2009

California politics and Race to the Top?

Re "State can't let money slip away" (Editorial, Aug. 20):
The Bee editorial argues that California must not let federal money slip away for school reform and that we must alter California law on the use of test results to evaluate teachers. The problem with this position is that writers and policymakers do not understand the tests nor their results. All STAR and NAEP exams are in English. Some 1.6 million California students are English language learners (ELLs). At least half of these are at a low level of English learning.
If you do not speak a language well, taking a test in that language is not a valid measure of your knowledge. ELL students score more than 25 percent below native English speakers on these tests. Decades of research show that tests given in a language the student does not understand are invalid and unreliable measures of the students' achievement.
In many classrooms, up to one-third of the students are English language learners. If you use these test results to measure the teachers or the schools, teachers working with ELL students will always score low. To use these scores to evaluate teachers would be unfair, inaccurate and poorly informed.
– Duane Campbell, Sacramento
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