High limited-English districts inch up

Santa Ana and Anaheim show small gains on Stanford 9 test scores.

Anaheim City and Santa Ana Unified, two school districts with high numbers of limited-English students, showed small gains on Stanford 9 test results released Tuesday, although the vast majority of students scored below the national average.

“If it’s slow, consistent, incremental growth, that to me is a better way of moving up than huge leaps that aren’t sustainable,” said Al Mijares, superintendent of Santa Ana Unified.

Scores in that district, Orange County’s largest, improved in 44 of 47 test categories and were unchanged in three. Math showed stronger gains than reading or language, although scores were all under the 50th percentile ? the national average.

Mijares said several factors contributed to the gains: a district focus on reading and math, dedicated teachers and class-size reduction.

Because of delays in sorting its information, Santa Ana did not release school-by-school scores, so it was impossible to determine the influence of English-only instruction in the district, where about 70 percent of students speak limited English. Only 4,700 students ? 12 percent of the limited-English population ? received part-time Spanish-language instruction this year.

Anaheim City district schools showed statistically insignificant changes in scores. But district officials were troubled by an error in the number of limited-English sixth-graders. Test publisher Harcourt Educational Measurement reported almost 1,300 such sixth-graders, but district records show only about 700.

That discrepancy could be a red flag for the state Department of Education, which is required by law to post all scores on the Internet today. Its Web site ishttp://star.cde.ca.gov/

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