« A San Francisco Judge Rules That English-Only Tests Are OK | Main | A Report Takes a Look at Reclassification in California »

Another Take on Coachella Valley Unified School District v. California

My last blog entry is wrong in telling what a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled regarding testing of English-language learners in California. After talking with lawyers for both sides of the case, I conclude that the article I posted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel overstates the reach of the ruling--and I distorted it further in my characterization of the article.

(Matt King, the journalist who wrote the article, told me today that he wrote it based on what he took directly from the ruling in which "the judge made it very clear that he believes the state is acting properly when it limits language choices on standardized tests"; Mr. King wasn't able to talk to lawyers on either side before the article went to press, so he says perhaps "it doesn't have the whole story." He stands by the conclusions he made from the ruling.)

Lawyers for both sides told me in telephone interviews that the judge has not decided in Coachella Valley Unified School District v. Californina whether or not English-only testing is okay or the current tests used under the No Child Left Behind Act are "valid and reliable" for English-language learners. Rather, Judge Richard Kramer ruled he doesn't have the authority through one particular legal process called a "writ of mandate" to order California to change its testing system for purposes of the No Child Left Behind Act, according to Mary Hernandez, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, and Elizabeth Lovingood, who is representing the California Department of Education.

You can read the tentative ruling on Coachella Valley Unified School District v. California for yourself here. (If you have trouble with this link, you can find the ruling as well on the court's Web site. The case number is 505334.) Ms. Hernandez said a final ruling is expected to be released in a few days but isn't likely to differ dramatically from this one.

Ms. Hernandez acknowledges the judge found California did not abuse its discretion in selecting its tests. She adds that the judge has not yet dismissed the entire case, and he could still find fault with California's standardized testing system for ELLs through the remaining causes of action in the case.

While no one can predict what the judge might do, an excerpt of his ruling indicates he's reluctant to meddle in the state's decisions about testing and the federal education law: "It is emphasized that rational people could differ as to whether administration of NCLB assessments in a second language, or in multiple additional languages, is also feasible, or desirable, or otherwise appropriate. The test for this court, however, is not to choose among competing rational alternatives and then mandate the judicially chosen one. To the contrary, decisions such as how to assess student performance for purposes of NCLB are best left to other branches of government..."

Here's yesterday's blog item, "A San Francisco Judge Rules That English-Only Tests are OK.".

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • Charles: ELLs in our state ARE required to take State standardized read more
  • Melissa: Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me read more
  • Anonymous: Are you kidding me....UNO is an organizaion that literally destroys read more
  • Meg Baker: Are any schools using ACCESS scores for purposes other than read more
  • Dr. Mendoza: This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM read more