Action Alert: Assessment of Bilingual Learners in California

by multilingualmania on May 26, 2010

in Bilingual Advocacy, Bilingual Education, Language Policy

In California, all English language learners are administered an English-only assessment regardless of whether they speak English or not. Such an English assessment is an invalid and unreliable indicator of academic achievement, and is inconsistent with the research base that language learners who are assessed in a second language should be provided a linguistically modified test, accommodations, or an assessment in students’ primary language.

A standards-based test in Spanish is also required of students who are enrolled in a bilingual program, as well as students who have been in the U.S. for less than twelve months. However, assessment results in Spanish are not taken into account in the state accountability system (i.e., API-Academic Performance Index) nor the federal accountability requirements (i.e., AYP, adequate yearly progress). In other words, the assessment is administered to many students, but doesn’t technically count for anything.

The following action alert is an attempt to introduce legislation that will provide a more valid and reliable manner of assessing language learners in California. Please consider participating:


SB 930 (Ducheny) Pupil Assessments is now on the “suspense file” of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The “suspense file” consists of bills that have been identified as costing the state (impacting the state’s General Fund) more than $50,000 dollars or having a “general fund pressure” of more than $50,000. Amendments have been proposed to the bill to deal with most of the costs identified by staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee. However we still need to impress upon the members of the Committee the need to move SB 930 (Ducheny) “off the suspense file” so that the bill can continue to move through the legislative process.

Please email or fax the following message to the members of the Committee, especially the Chairperson (Senator Kehoe) and the Vice Chairperson (Senator Cox) before Thursday, May 27, 2009.  Try to personalize your message as much as possible.


Dear Senator (Name)

I am writing to respectfully request your support and “yes” vote to move SB 930 (Ducheny) Pupil Assessments off the suspense file. The Committee is scheduled to make its decisions regarding the suspense file on Thursday, May 27, 2010.

California’s existing testing system does not provide valid, accurate or reliable data regarding the academic performance of students who are English learners, especially English learners with little or no knowledge of English. As a result students who are English learners and their schools are inaccurately measured as to their academic progress. Schools with large numbers of students who are English learners are unfairly targeted for program improvement. SB 930 (Ducheny) as amended, addresses these problem by: 1) expanding the number of years English learners (as specified)  can take a primary language test from one year to three years, 2) incorporating the score of the California Standards Test or the primary language test, whichever one is higher, into the calculation of the API and AYP and 3) by eliminating linguistic complexities and providing for additional accommodations in the California Standards tests. I believe these changes to our existing testing and accountability systems will provide for a more accurate, valid and reliable measure of the academic performance of our English learners. These changes are long overdue and are critical in these times of high stakes testing and the current focus on teacher performance.

Additionally, the amendments proposed by the author, Senator Ducheny, fully addresses the cost concerns identified by the Committee. It is for these reasons that I respectfully request that SB 930 (Ducheny) Pupil Assessments be moved off the suspense file.


Name & Title if Appropriate

Senate Appropriations Committee

Senator Christine Kehoe, Chairperson                                        Senator Ellen Corbett
Capitol Office                                                                                         Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 5050                                                                            State Capitol, Room 5108
Sacramento, CA 95814                                                                                  Sacramento CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4039                                                                               Phone: 916-651-4010
Fax: (916) 327-2188                                                                                     Fax: 916-327-2433 Email:

Senator Dave Cox, Chairperson                                                Senator Mark Leno
Capitol Office                                                                                   Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 2068                                                                      State Capitol, Room 4061
Sacramento, CA 95814                                                                            Sacramento CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4001                                                                          Phone: 916-651-4003
Fax: (916) 324-2680                                                                               Fax: 916-445-4722
E-mail: E-mail:

Senator Elaine Alquist                                                                 Senator Curren Price
Capitol Office                                                                                   Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 5080                                                                     State Capitol, Room 2052
Sacramento CA 95814                                                                            Sacramento CA 95814
Phone: 916-651-4013                                                                            Phone: 916- 651-4026
Fax: 916-324-0283                                                                                 Fax: 916- 445-8899
E-mail: E-mail:

Senator Mimi Waters                                                                    Senator Lois Wolk
Capitol Office                                                                                    Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 3082                                                                       State Capitol, Room 4032
Sacramento,  CA  95814                                                                          Sacramento CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4033                                                                          Phone: 916-651-4005
Fax: (916) 445-9754                                                                                Fax: 916-323-2304
E-mail: Email:

Senator Leland Yee Senator Mark Wyland
Capitol Office                                                                                Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 4074                                                                   State Capitol, Room 4048
Sacramento CA 94814                                                                          Sacramento CA 95814
Phone: 916-651- 4008                                                                        Phone: 916-651- 4038
Fax: 916-327-2186                                                                                 Fax: 916- 446-7382
E-mail:                                 E-mail:

Senator Jeff Denham
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 3076
Sacramento CA 95814
Phone: 916-651-4012
Fax: 916-445-0773

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Isabeline May 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I hope you can make it, lots of good positive energy from here!

multilingualmania May 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Gracias Isabeline~ ¡espero que sí!

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