Court Bars Calif. From Posting Test Results for LEP Pupils
California has posted on the Internet scores from its first statewide test in four years, but without results from about one in five of the students who took the basic-skills test.
A last-minute court decision prevented state education officials from publicizing the performance of students who are not fluent in English. An appeal by the state was denied in court last week.
By law, the state education department had to release the results of the basic-skills test for the first time on the Internet by June 30. But it was able to meet that mandate only partially. Now, the results from about 800,000 students with limited proficiency in English will be held up at least until a court hearing scheduled for July 16.
Still, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin said in a statement that the results "establish a baseline for how well our students are learning basic academic skills. ... These results are good."
The results show that, without the students with limited English skills, California performed at about the national average in several subjects, except in spelling, where students lagged behind the nation.
District by District
A June 25 ruling by San Francisco Municipal Judge Ronald E. Quidachay, who was filling in for a state superior court judge, sent into a tailspin the state's plans for a timely release of results from all the 4.1 million students in grades 2-11 who took the tests.
The court sided with the Oakland and Berkeley districts. Piggybacking on a suit filed earlier by the San Francisco schools, the two districts, in a view widely shared by other educators statewide, argued that using a test given in English to measure the academic skills of students who don't fully understand the language is unfair and invalidates the scores.
San Francisco in May won a ruling freeing it from having to give the test to 5,740 students with the least grasp of English. ("S.F. Freed From Testing LEP Pupils in English," June 3, 1998.)
Judge Quidachay's order did not prohibit individual districts from releasing the results for all their students. But the Los Angeles district issued a press release on its performance without taking into account LEP students--nearly half its 682,000-student population. San Francisco officials, still fighting the testing program in court, said last week they would not release any scores.
By a 2-1 vote June 30, a three-judge state appellate court denied the state's request to lift the temporary restraining order on the release of scores for LEP students.
Under the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, every California public school student in grades 2-11 had to take the Stanford Achievement Test, 9th Edition, in English for the first time this year. Students who have been in the state's schools less than a year were to be given a test in their first language if one was available.
Students in grades 2-8 were tested in reading, written expression, spelling, and mathematics. Those in grades 9-11 took the multiple-choice test in reading, writing, history-social science, and science.
The results can be found on the Internet at www.cde.ca.gov/star.
Vol. 17, Issue 42, Page 23