Thursday, August 20, 2009

English Learners and Test Scores

The Organization California Together Responds to the publication of California STAR test results. August 18,2009.

“System Failure; For the seventh straight year, the achievement gap between English Learners and English proficient children has widened. The State Board of Education and State Superintendent equally share the blame for what can only be described as a system failure. Children, parents, teachers and administrators deserve better.

The reforms of the State Board of Education, Superintendent O’Connell and the Secretary of Education have not kept their promise of closing the achievement gap. The system has failed nearly 1.6 million English Learners, 25% of California’s student population.”

Note: California’s school accountability program relies upon testing only in English. Thus, they do not accurately test the 1.6 million English Language learners. The accountability measures focus only on English and have severe negative consequences for some schools. When that school has a large percentage of English Language Learners, the testing is not valid nor reliable.
We are rewarding some schools and teachers, and punishing others, based upon non reliable and non valid measurements.
Distributed at California State Senate Latino Caucus event.

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell:
Aug. 18,2009. On the CDE web site:

"The number one priority of my office is to close this persistent achievement gap that deprives too many students of color opportunities to succeed in school and in life,' O'Connell said. "We must continue to push our education system to better serve all students. I remain committed to making changes at the state level to support the work being done at the school and district level to close the gap.'
The performance of African American students and Hispanic students continues to lag behind that of white, Asian, and Filipino students regardless of economic status in most cases. (Tables 3, 4, 8 and 9) The 2009 STAR data reveal that the percentage of not economically disadvantaged African American students (35 percent) achieving the proficient level and above in math is eight percentage points lower than economically disadvantaged white students (43 percent) achieving at the same level. Likewise, the percentage of not economically disadvantaged Hispanic students (41 percent) achieving at high levels in math remains two percentage points lower than that of the economically disadvantaged white students (43 percent). The lone exception to this situation is the percentage of Hispanic students who are not economically disadvantaged scoring proficient or above in English language arts is two percentage points higher than the white students who are economically disadvantaged.
Under the STAR program, California students attain one of five levels of performance on the CSTs for each subject tested: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic. The State Board of Education has established the proficient level as the desired achievement goal for all students. The proficient level represents a solid performance. Students demonstrate a competent and adequate understanding of the knowledge and skills measured by this assessment, at this grade, in this content area. This goal is consistent with school growth targets for state accountability and the federal No Child Left Behind requirements. The state target is for all students to score at the proficient or advanced levels.

See the following post on ELL learners and Race to the top.
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