Non-English scores rise

Stanford 9: Results match those of pupils proficient in English.

LONG BEACH – Pupils with limited English in the Long Beach school district improved their scores on this year’s Stanford 9 test about as much as English-proficient pupils did, officials reported Friday.

“It’s pretty much the same trend as the overall scores showed,” said Lynn Winters, assistant superintendent of research, planning and evaluation.

The performance of non-English-speaking pupils has been a particular issue since June 1998, when voters passed Proposition 227, forcing school districts to curtail teaching of non-English speakers in their native tongue and switch to English immersion instead.

State officials had planned to issue school-by-school results of the statewide Stanford 9 test this week, including comparative scores of pupils who are skilled in English and those who are not. But a blunder by the test’s publisher has postponed the release date to July 15.

The Long Beach district chose to go ahead and do some of its own calculations.

The Stanford 9 is a timed, standardized exam that tests second- through eighth-graders in reading, math, language comprehension and spelling. For ninth- through 11th-graders, it drops the spelling test but adds science and social science. This was the second year the test was given to all public schools in the state.

The Long Beach district’s 33,000 English learners scored in the bottom 20th percentile compared with pupils nationally, but their scores were improved over those of a year ago, especially in the primary grades. They scored highest in math and lowest in reading.

Grades one through six showed consistent improvement, adding about 6 percentage points to their math scores and 3 percentage points to their reading scores.

Upper grades lost ground on at least one subject. Tenth-graders did worst in reading, surpassing only 6 percent of the national sample, compared with 7 percent last year. Second-graders did best this year, scoring better than 23 percent of the national sample.

School officials said they were happy with the progress of their English learners. “Wonderful,” said Superintendent Carl Cohn.

Winters said she was pleased, but stressed that the district still has a long way to go with these pupils. “It takes time,” she said. “We shall see.”

Winters attributed the progress, particularly in the lower grades, to several factors: more familiarity with the exam, a move to smaller classes,
and the district’s special programs.

She also gave credit to Proposition 227, although she added that, since the district did not implement the law until February, it may not have affected scores as much as it might have. Next year’s scores will better reflect what impact 227 had on English learners, she said.

Long Beach is the first local district to release separate Stanford 9 scores for its English learners.

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