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Californians Together Releases New Report: Masking the Focus on English Learners

Sacramento, CA – August 14, 2018 – Californians Together is releasing a new report today entitled Masking the Focus on English Learners which questions the efficacy of the state accountability system in identifying the needs of English Learners accurately. The report states that by combining data from two English Learner subgroups (current and reclassified), the system masks the distinct needs of each subgroup and diminishes the urgency to address the numerous educational needs of current English Learners thus undermining the central equity intent of the Local Control Funding Formula. The report’s strongest recommendation is that the state discontinue aggregating the two subgroups and instead report them separately for analysis and planning.

“There is great potential for California school districts to be misled by the results of the combined EL subgroup on the Dashboard.  The decision to combine this data from two student groups with distinct language and academic profiles masks and impedes districts from addressing their distinct academic needs” said researcher and co-author, Dr. Magaly Lavadenz.

The report also states that the system largely misses the mark in identifying research-based programs, actions, and services for English Learners.

Key findings presented in the report include:

  • Despite all 24 districts being rated at the two lowest levels for English Learner performance, only 6 mentioned a concern for achievement in English Language Arts and only 1 specified a concern for their overall achievement.
  • Minimal attention was paid to analysis of English Learner outcomes
  • Course access and targeted services were inconsistently provided to current English Learners
  • Minimal specific professional development was offered to teachers of English Learners.

“Obscuring current English Learner results has detrimental effects on districts’ abilities to address goals in local plans, set growth targets, focus program, and services and allocate funds for this group of students.  We call on the State Board of Education to rectify this accountability policy in order to ensure every English Learner can best be served,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director of Californians Together.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Equity for English Learners at Loyola Marymount University and reviewed local plans for 24 school districts that serve 23% of California’s English Learners.

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