« Advice for Selecting Spanish-Language Library Books? | Main | Will ELLs Benefit From Federal Stimulus Funds? »

Scores for ELLs Increase on California's English-Proficiency Test

The California Department of Education's press release about English-language learners' scores on the state's English-proficiency test reads about the same as the press releases on students' scores on this test for the last several years, as I recall. The percentage of ELLs who score "proficient" in the language keeps rising, but a gap still exists between the scores and the proportion of students who are reclassified as fluent in English, and thus, no longer in need of special programs.

A sizable gap exists as well between the scores of ELLs and native speakers of English, though the press release doesn't say if that gap has increased or decreased from last school year. Update: California Sen. Gloria Romero, a Democrat who is chair of the state's Senate Education Committee, says in a May 1 press release that the gap has increased slightly over the last six years.

In the 2007-08 school year, 32.8 percent of English-language learners met the bar on the California English Language Development Test set by the state that says they are eligible for possible reclassification. But, in fact, school districts reclassified only 9.6 percent of ELLs that school year as fluent in the language.

California, by the way, recommends several criteria, including particular scores on the test, for reclassification, but gives districts the final word on reclassification decisions. The policy contrasts with a state such as Arizona, where English-language learners must be reclassified and must leave special programs if they score proficient on that state's English-proficiency test.

The newly released scores from California for the 2008-09 school year show that 36.2 percent of ELLs met the test's criteria for possible reclassification, up from 32.8 percent the previous school year. The reclassification rate for 2008-09 hasn't yet been released.

(To score well enough to meet the state's bar for possible reclassification, students must score "early advanced" or "advanced" on the CELDT, plus they must score "intermediate" or higher for each of the four domains of English tested: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell notes in the press release that the increase of the reclassification rate from 9.2 percent of ELLs in the 2006-07 school year to 9.6 percent in the 2007-08 school year is a "positive sign." But he fails to note that the reclassification rate in the 2005-06 school year was also 9.6 percent. So the rate didn't budge overall for three years.

For whatever reason, most educators at the school district level in California continue not to view the state's cut-off point on the CELDT for possible reclassification as a high enough bar for deciding that students should leave ELL programs.

Anyone from California want to weigh in on why this is the case?

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