State tests lack equity,' trustee says schools

Ballard asks new regulations for English learners

State-mandated tests for English language learners show a total lack of equity” and cruel punishment,” Fullerton School District Trustee Ellen Ballard told the board Tuesday.

Although the board approved this year’s state policy, Ballard asked the district staff and fellow trustees to write a letter to state officials calling for new testing regulations in 2002 for youths who don’t understand the English language.

Children who don’t speak English are allowed to have test directions translated in their native language, but if they can’t read the (test) questions, it’s futile for them to take the test,” Board President Hilda Sugarman added.

Ballard said the SABE Test, created for Spanish-speaking students who have been in the classroom less than 12 months, takes the students out of the classroom for three days — three days of valuable learning time.”

Superintendent Ron Cooper said he told the PTA Council Tuesday each second-language learner spends 12 hours in one year taking tests.

District Instructional Services Director Ana Stover explained that English learners now take the SAT9 tests despite not being fluent in the language.

But it’s a new English Language Development test that addresses listening, reading, spelling and writing, and that’s the best of all three,” Stover said. They should only have to take that test. Our mission is to develop a child’s English. We don’t have bilingual education in this district.”

The testing package, approved Tuesday, also included rules outlining test-giving integrity. The policy states teachers must not modify testing procedures, allow students or change or fill in answers or discourage or exclude certain students from taking the tests.

The state Department of Education last year investigated one FSD teacher who allegedly told the students to change answers. District officials, according to law, are not permitted to divulge the teacher’s name or specific reprimand.

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