In our bilingual programs, English learners take both the STS (Standards-based Test in Spanish) and CST (California Standards Test) beginning in second grade. However, the test scores in Spanish are not included at all in the accountability system that counts for API or AYP (how schools are measured in California). In addition, English speaking students who are enrolled in Dual Immersion bilingual programs are not permitted to take the test in Spanish even if schools choose to spend their own funds to purchase the test, nor are former English learners who have been reclassified to Fluent English Proficient (R-FEP) permitted to take the assessment in Spanish.
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law requires that English learners are provided valid and reliable assessment, which includes primary language assessments when possible as well as modifications to the English assessment. However, English learners in English programs are frequently not provided with research-based accomodations such as glossaries, questions that control for linguistic complexity, and other accomodations.
Luckily the SB 930 (Ducheny) Pupil Assessment legislative bill has been passed through the legislation and is sitting on the Governor’s desk waiting to either be approved or vetoed. A similar bill in the past also passed through the legislation but was vetoed by the Governor. It’s important that we advocate for this bill by emailing, faxing, or calling the Governor’s office in order to show our support for this issue. This will really help many schools that have bilingual programs because the test scores will be counted and it will also help schools with large populations of English learners because it will ensure that assessments are valid and reliable for students learning English. Bills are often passed or vetoed based on the public’s response to the bills.
Please check out the sample letter from the California Association for Bilingual Education below. They have also included an easy way to send your letter by email or fax, as well as the Governor’s telephone number. You can send the sample letter or you can customize your own letter. If you decide to write your own letter, some important points are:
- This is a no cost bill. We already have assessments in Spanish and it won’t require any additional assessments to be created. All we are asking for is that the test scores in Spanish be counted also in the accountability system.
- It also does not cost any money for the accomodations in English, such as glossaries, etc.
- Native English speaking parents who have elected to enroll their child in a Spanish-English Dual Immersion program deserve to be assessed in their Spanish proficiency. The Spanish tests will not replace English assessments, and schools should have the right to choose to purchase the Spanish test for native English speaking children enrolled in Dual language programs.
Please act now!! Contact Information:
* Email: http://www.gov.ca.gov/interact . Please note under “Subject” put “Governor” and copy/paste the letter as your email message. This is necessary because attachments ARE NOT ACCEPTED as part of the email.
* Fax Number: 916-558-3160
* Phone: Capitol Office: 916-445-2841
Below is a SAMPLE LETTER that you can use in requesting the Governor to sign SB 930 (Ducheny). Please remember to:
* Personalize the SAMPLE LETTER
* Give your name and title (if appropriate)
* Request the governor’s signature on SB 930 (Ducheny) Pupil Assessments
Act now and show the Governor our strong support of SB 930 (Ducheny)!!!
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
Re:SB 930 (Ducheny) Pupil Assessment
I respectfully request your support and signature on SB 930 (Ducheny) ensuring the inclusion of English learner research-based accommodations to ensure valid and reliable test results for English learners. These accommodations would be elements of the “new” accountability and assessment systems upon the reauthorization of the STAR program in 2013.
The research-based accommodations called for in SB 930 (Ducheny) include:
* English test questions and answers that control for linguistic complexity to enhance comprehension of what is asked on the academic assessments in English.
* Support from the California Department of Education to increase the use of accommodations such as word-for-word glossaries and translated questions. The Department would provide these glossaries and translations to school districts thereby ensuring uniform statewide use.
* Primary language assessments and inclusion of their scores.
The education code authorizes the STAR program sunset in 2011which then requires legislation to “reauthorize” the STAR program. The emphasis on improved academic achievement of all students, including English learners, continues to be a priority of the federal government and thus also of every state. It is critical therefore that California’s reauthorized accountability and assessment system continue to include primary language assessments (as is currently required by California) their scores and the other accommodations listed above.
Please note that the federal government, in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, authorized states to administer valid and reliable assessments for English learners and accommodations “in a language and form” to yield accurate results. A recent report (June 2010) from the California Department of Education to the State Board of Education documented that approximately only 1% of English learners make use of any of the approved accommodations.
SB 930 (Ducheny) would put in place a framework of research-based accommodations to demonstrate validity, reliability and accurate results of what English learners know and can do by including the aforementioned accommodations in the “new” accountability and assessments systems of California. A future assessment or accountability system without these accommodations would continue to provide a system that is flawed because teachers and schools (especially schools with significant numbers of students who are English learners) are having to make education decisions based on data that does not accurately measure the academic performance of these students.
Governor, by signing SB 930 (Ducheny) you will ensure that California’s future accountability and assessment system will accurately and reliably account for the academic performance of English learners. You have the opportunity to make California a leader in the nation and a model to other states regarding accountability for our English learners.
Again, please sign SB 930 (Ducheny) Pupil Assessments.
Name & Address (city and zip code)