Hispanic O.C. test takers achieve par

EDUCATION: But the significance of the Spanish-language Stanford 9 equivalent is questioned.

Spanish-speaking students in Orange County and California scored about average on tests that are their language’s counterpart to the Stanford 9 exams, but educators were split over whether the results are a valid gauge of achievement.

About 7,100 Orange County students in grades 2-11 _ 5 percent of the county’s limited-English proficient students _ took the Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, or SABE/2, tests this spring, the first of five test-administration years.

The Orange County students beat the national average _ the 50th percentile _ in 17 of 37 testing categories. The 118,000 California students who took the SABE scored at the 50th percentile or better in 19 categories.

“If students are above the national average when they’re in bilingual classes, then they’ve had a strong program,” said Linda Delgiudice, director of evaluation in the Santa Ana Unified School District, where 3,400 students took the exams in reading, math, language and spelling.

But others said the SABE scores provide no valuable information about the quality of school programs, only a snapshot of how individual students perform on multiple-choice tests.

“We haven’t paid much attention to it because it’s such a tiny minority of students tested,” said Phil Morse, administrator for assessment in Orange Unified, where only 1 percent of students took the SABE.

Schools were required to give the SABE tests to all limited-English students who speak Spanish and have attended California schools for less than a year. But some districts, such as Santa Ana and Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified, also gave the tests to students taught part-time in Spanish.

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