Some Advances, Some Setbacks for English Learners in Capo

The number of elementary students who are struggling increases, while upperclassmen show signs of improvement on latest standardized test scores.

English learners in the continue to struggle, especially in the elementary grades, according to the latest testing results out of Sacramento.

The number of  who are either below basic or far below basic levels in English-language arts grew in second through fifth grades, the 2011 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program results show. Furthermore, elementary-aged English learners in other Orange County school districts are performing better than in CUSD.


However, English-language-arts performance in the higher grades improved locally. The number of students testing at below basic or far below basic dropped five percentage points in sixth grade, 11 points in seventh grade, nine points in eighth grade, six points in ninth grade, 15 points in 10th grade and a whopping 24 points in 11th grade.

Despite those improvements, more than half the English-learner population in 10th and 11th grades remain below basic or far below basic levels. The same is true countywide and statewide.

"We know that we have to improve the outcomes for our English learner students," said district spokesman Marcus Walton.

To address the needs of English learners, the school district began a pilot program in fall 2010 it calls the Academic Design and Delivery Initiative.

It will "help us refine our instructional methodologies for English learners specifically but will also help improve instruction for all of our students," Walton said.

The program involves identifying best teaching practices and using teachers on special assignment to impart those practices through peer coaching, Amy Bryant, director of curriculum and instructional support, told the board of trustees at last week’s board meeting.

Although the impetus was the English-learner population, the strategies should help all students, Bryant said.

The program “worked well in all types of classes,” Bryant said. “Every class has a bottom 30 percent, and that’s what this initiative is really all about.”

The initiative is called SIOP, short for "sheltered instruction, observation protocol." It has eight major components, Bryant said. It’s not a curriculum; it’s a method of teaching.

“We call it out little black dress. It never goes out of style,” Bryant said.

Julie Hatchel, assistant superintendent for education services, said the district has not yet compared standardized testing scores for English learners who were introduced to SIOP strategies with those who were not.

Those struggling to learn the English language are also struggling in other subjects, the STAR results show. The number of Capo Unified English learners who scored below basic or far below basic levels in math grew in grades fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth grades. Third-grade, seventh-grade and ninth-grade English learners scored the same in 2011 as they did in 2010. Only first-graders saw an improvement in basic math.

In the upper grades for Algebra I, eighth- and 11th-graders saw much improvement. In 2010, 20 percent of eighth-graders and 71 percent of 11th graders scored below basic or far below basic in this course. By 2011, those numbers dropped to 7 percent and 56 percent, respectively.


The most recent STAR results also show that English-learner students in the district's are not necessarily faring better than English learners at regular elementaries.

The Two-Way program brings students who speak Spanish as native language with those who speak English and teaches them in both languages, with a goal of biliteracy by fourth grade.

The STAR results, however, indicate that English-learners in a traditional setting may fare better, especially when it comes to English-language arts. Only in fourth grade are students from and —two Two-Way schools—proficient or advanced in English in higher numbers than students from , a school with a large number of English-learner students.

Kinoshita students also outperform their counterparts in third- and fifth-grade math. In science, however, more students at Las Palmas clock in at proficient or advanced levels at 15 percent  than at San Juan Elementary (4 percent) or Kinoshita (6 percent).

patricia August 17, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Shripathi, the bottom line to me is PARENTS should be accountable, period. No, I don't want taxpayers to pay for parents to be educated in English. I also don't want taxpayers to pay for much of what goes on in our public schools. These days, our teachers are expected to do their job as well as the job of the parents. That is a sad commentary on our society. It is not a 'time' thing, it is not a 'money' thing, it is not a 'single-parent' thing....it is a 'responsibility' thing. If you were in the classroom and saw where our taxpayer $ goes, you would probably be even more indignant. It is so unfortunate, but we have dumbed down our classrooms and teach to the mediocre student. "Not learning English affects that kid only in the classroom." No, it affects all the children in the classroom....more time, more resources, more money spent on bringing these kids up, while the kids flounder and do not flourish as much as they could. This is part of the reason more parents are opting for charter schools, private schools and home schools. Until more parents step up and do the proper job, things conditions in our public schools won't get much better. Accountability IS the answer. Private schools and charter schools demand that....no parent participation or accountability, students are asked to leave. Unfortunately, that is the reason for a good deal of the traffic jam in our public schools.....What a pity!
Shripathi Kamath August 17, 2011 at 07:45 PM
I grant you that I was incorrect in saying that only that kid suffers. That still leaves the question unanswered. I got your bottom line way back in your first post. What I do not get is what specifically you mean by holding parents accountable. You say free classes, they are not free. Someone pays for them. You do not want taxpayers to pay for them. Conflicting wants, there. The only accountability you cite is to hold the kid out of school. That is not only unconstitutional, but works against the very premise of a school -- does not make the kid learn English any faster. "If you were in the classroom and saw where our taxpayer $ goes, you would probably be even more indignant. " Perhaps, even if you presume that I have not been in a classroom. That is a diversion, so can we please get back to the singular point of parent accountability and the specific measures you propose.
Capo mom August 18, 2011 at 04:43 AM
The results here are consistant with the CELDT. GIven that, why does CUSD continue to sink $$ into immersion programs? Aside from the fact that Trustee Alpay wants his children in these programs ...
Capo mom August 19, 2011 at 01:13 AM
Where is the interest in really educating Hispanic students in CUSD?
shelly August 26, 2011 at 03:55 AM
capo mom, The immersion program schools do not cost anymore than any other school. Why don't you visit one and see the teachers in action and you will see the interest in educating both English Language Learners and Native English students. Do you not agree with choice and diversity in educating students or should all CUSD schools be the same?


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