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Californians Together Voices at the March State Board of Education Meeting

Annually, at the March State Board of Education, the members hear a report from the Department of Education about the current accountability system and their accountability work plan for the next year. We had a lot to say about the following items:

  • The importance of disaggregating English learner-only and Fluent English Proficient Student data for the academic indicators in the upcoming growth model
  • Setting equity-focused expectations in establishing cut scores for English Learner Progress Indicator (ELPI)
  • Incorporating the English Learner Roadmap in the differentiated assistance process
  • Identifying Long-Term English Learners for accountability using the long-standing state definition and approving the threshold of fifteen students for the district and school accountability
  • The value of not including transitional kinder in ELPI until a more developmentally appropriate English language proficiency assessment be created 

Sixteen Californians Together advocates presented testimony on all five of the above issues with a more targeted focus on revisiting and revising the cut scores for ELPI—the California County Superintendents and the Charter School Development Center supported our request. Statewide,  forty-one counties have zero districts in differentiated assistance for ELPI and only nine counties with one district in differentiated assistance for ELPI.  This does not represent the urgency needed to improve and address statewide English language development.

Here are two testimonies that members of the State Board heard.

Good morning President Linda Darling Hammond and Board members, I am Lucy Bollinger, English learner program specialist from Elk Grove School Districts.

We are again raising concerns about the low expectations set by the ELPI indicator and urge the board to not accept these low expectations for our English learners.

We cannot claim to have an equity-focused system when, despite the fact that over half of ELs did not make progress towards English proficiency.  Are we ok with only identifying 60 school districts receiving a red performance level?  This represents approximately just less than  9%of English learners statewide.

In Sacramento County which enrolls 13,173 English learners only 2 districts out of 15 are red for ELPI and not one is going to receive support from Differentiated Assistance to support growth in English language proficiency. 

According to ELPI, over half of ELs did not make progress toward English language proficiency. Please revisit and revise the ELPI methodology and cut scores to ensure that our LEAs get the support they need.”

“Good morning, President Linda Darling-Hammond and Board members, my name is Izela Jacobo, I am the Sr. Director for the Multilingual Dept., from the San Diego County Office of Education, I am here to urgently address the growth of English language proficiency for students in San Diego County. In our region, we have high aspirations for all our students, including EL students, and would hope that you would agree that accepting 55% as high and 45% as medium for ELPI status cut scores is not sufficient.  We expect more of our students and districts and request that you review and revisit the ELPI status cut scores to establish growth targets with a trajectory of becoming fluent within 6 – 7 years.  Without any revisions, the state has set targets that will predict 50% of ELs becoming LTELs. Our students deserve higher standards and better outcomes.”

Thank you to everyone who represented us and 1.1 million multilingual learners. We were disappointed that only two Board members expressed concern about our issues. That does not deter us from continuing to raise our voices and begin to imagine how our advocacy can bring about the changes we need to see in  California’s accountability to shine a light on the needs of our multilingual learners.