All students have the opportunity to learn and 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 achievements. For the first time, the law specified requirements for the full inclusion of limited English proficient students in Title I programs, assessments, and accountability systems. California is an especially important state with regard to Title I reforms because receives substantially more Title I funds than any other state. Twenty-two percent of California’s children are below the federal poverty line, and the achievement of its students, especially poor Latino and African American 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 of 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 were proficient at or above the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) in reading, and among poor and minority students only 8% were black, 7% For Hispanics and 6% of free / reduced students eligible for price lunch were at or above proficient level. One-third of its ninth-grade students did not graduate from high school four years later. The numbers of black and Latino students are higher; 44% of black students and 45% of Hispanics in ninth grade did not graduate on time or did not graduate.
At the fifth grade level, only 8% of English Language Learners were above the national average in reading. In math, 51% of all English-proficient eighth graders met or exceeded the national average compared to 15% of ELLs.
Studies have found that third graders enrolled in small class sizes performed slightly better than those who were not, and that gains were found across all socioeconomic levels. However, there has been some criticism of the program because the program prompted the rapid hiring of additional teachers in California, many of them with little or no experience. Advocates for English-only instruction attribute the achievement of ELL students in some school districts to legislation, while advocates for bilingual education argue that the gains are due more to reduced class sizes and increased accountability .
Federal law requires school districts and individual schools to provide assessment and accountability data indicating that specially funded students are learning the district’s core curriculum. State laws and regulations also require that a district have results from an annual evaluation showing that each of its participating schools is implementing consolidated programs that are effective under criteria established by the local governing board.
The state indicates that the standards adopted for ELL and former ELL and immigrant students in core subjects should be the same standards as those required for regular students. ELLS are expected to receive English language development until they are redesignated as fluent in English. In addition, all students will continue to take the appropriate Stanford science test for grade level enrollment. Each student is required to take the high school exit exam in grade 10 and may take the exam during each subsequent administration, until each section has been passed.
In addition to taking the designated test in English, ELLs who are enrolled in California public schools for less than 12 months must also take a test in their primary language, if one is available. The CDE (California Department of Education) guidance further suggests that, whenever possible, assessments in subject areas such as math, science, social studies, health, and other courses required for grade level promotion should be administered to ELLs. in the language in which is the best way to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject.
For 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 the CDE that the state assessment program may not meet Title I requirements for final assessments. Key requirements of federal law that California education officials must adhere to include uniform statewide policies to ensure full inclusion of all students in assessments, breakdown of assessment results by major racial groups, and ethnicity, as well as migrant status, and meeting Title I requirements for the use of multiple measures. Growth targets are set for each significant ethnic subgroup and 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 targets 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 yearly progress for two consecutive years. Despite recent progress, California still has a long way to go before fully meeting federal requirements. The state has yet to:
– 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.
– provide for the appropriate inclusion of ELLs in the assessment and accountability program. Currently, ELL students are tested primarily in English, although state law requires students to be tested in the language in which they are most likely to get accurate and reliable information about their skills and knowledge.
– provide the resources, capacity building, and other assistance 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 without sufficient classroom space.
There are reasons to doubt that the corrections and improvements necessary to comply with federal law can be made in time to meet the deadlines established by law. Both state and federal education officials face the challenge of updating a compliance and implementation plan for California that will deliver on the promise that all students will reap the benefits of standards-based reform.