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All Students Have The Opportunity To Learn And To Achieve High Standards
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has provided federal assistance to schools to meet the educational needs of disadvantaged students. Congress substantially revised the program from a focus on remediation to high standards and accountability for higher achievement. For the first time, the law specified requirements for the full inclusion of students with limited English proficiency in Title I programs, assessments, and accountability systems. California is a particularly important state in terms of reforms to the Title I because it receives substantially more Title I funding than any other state. Twenty-two percent of California’s children fall below the federal poverty line, and the performance of its students, especially its poor African-American and Latino students, has lagged behind the rest of the country.
California is one of the most critical states in the nation for the standards-based reform movement, but it has had an inconsistent record in addressing the needs of its students.
However, California districts have seen an influx of new funding in recent years. The state plans to increase general fund spending on education. Only 19% of California fourth graders scored at or above the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) in reading, and among poor and minority students only 8% of black, 7% of Hispanic and 6% of free/reduced. Students eligible for the price lunch were at or above a proficiency level. A third of its ninth-graders did not graduate from high school four years later. Black and Latino student numbers are higher; 44% of black students and 45% of Hispanic ninth graders did not graduate on time, or at all.
At the fifth grade level, only 8% of English learners were above the national average in reading. In math, 51% of all fluent eighth graders met or exceeded the national average compared to 15% of ELLs (English Language Learners).
Studies have found that third-grade students enrolled in reduced class sizes performed slightly better than those who were not, and that the gains were found across all socioeconomic levels. There has been some criticism of the program, however, because the program led to the rapid hiring of additional teachers in California, many with little or no experience. Proponents of English-only instruction attribute the gains for ELL students in some school districts to the legislation, while proponents of bilingual education argue that the gains are due more to reduced class sizes and a greater responsibility
Federal law requires school districts and individual schools to provide assessment and accountability data showing that students with special funding are learning the district’s core curriculum. State laws and regulations also require a district to have the results of an annual evaluation demonstrating that each of its participating schools is implementing consolidated programs that are effective according to criteria established by the local governing board.
The state indicates that the standards adopted for ELLs and former ELLs and immigrant students in the core subjects should be the same standards as those required for mainstream students. ELS are expected to receive English development until they are re-designated as English Proficient. In addition, all students will continue to take the appropriate Stanford Science Test at undergraduate level enrollment. Each student is required to take the 10th grade high school exit exam and can take it during each subsequent administration, until each section has been passed.
In addition to taking the designated test in English, ELLs who have been enrolled in California public schools for less than 12 months must also take a test in their primary language if one is available. CDE (California Department of Education) guidance further suggests that, whenever possible, assessments of subject areas such as math, science, social studies, health, and other courses required for grade level promotion grade should be administered to ELLs in the language. who are the most able to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject.
Because of their local accountability system, districts are encouraged to use multiple measures in reading/language arts and math for all students. The US Department of Education has informed CDE that the state’s assessment program may not meet Title I requirements for final assessments. Key federal law requirements that California education officials must meet include uniform statewide policies to ensure full inclusion of all students on assessments, disaggregation of assessment results by racial and ethnic groups principals, as well as migrant status and compliance with the Title I. requirement for the use of multiple measures. Growth targets are set for each significant ethnic subgroup and for the school as a whole. Schools that meet or exceed growth targets will be eligible for monetary and non-monetary awards. Schools that continue to fall short of their goals or do not show significant growth may be subject to local interventions or, eventually, state sanctions.
The CDE reports that it is working to align state and federal requirements into a single state accountability system. Title I schools will be identified for program improvement when they have not made adequate annual progress for two consecutive years. Despite recent progress, California still has a long way to go before it fully meets federal requirements. The state must still:
– Demonstrate that the state test is aligned with state content and performance standards. This is important because California has chosen to use a multiple-choice test referenced to national standards as the centerpiece of its new school accountability program.
– develop multiple valid and reliable measures of student performance. Current state standards for determining adequate yearly progress are based solely on school scores and do not yet incorporate multiple measures of student achievement required by Title I.
– foresee the appropriate inclusion of ELLs in the evaluation and accountability program. Currently, ELLs are assessed largely in English, although state law requires that students be tested in the language in which they are most likely to provide accurate and reliable information about their skills and knowledge.
– provide resources, capacity building and other support to schools and districts to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn and achieve high standards. In particular, class size reduction reforms have left many children in high-poverty schools without fully qualified teachers or adequate classroom space.
There is reason to doubt whether the corrections and improvements necessary to comply with federal law can be made in time to meet statutory deadlines. Both state and federal education officials are challenged to craft a compliance and implementation plan for California that delivers on the promise that all students will reap the benefits of standards-based reform.
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