Statewide assessments may prove difficult for non-native English speakers: Superintendent

In the spring of 2017, elementary students in Canby participated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium standardized tests, along with students statewide in grades 3-8 and 11. The Oregon Department of Education recently released those results, and here's how Canby's elementary schools scored.

The test scores reveal the percent of students in each grade level who are proficient in the areas of English language arts, math and science.

When compared to area schools, such as West Linn-Wilsonville School District, Canby's elementary scores are lower. For example, Canby's proficiency in English language arts ranges from 18 percent for Trost fourth graders to 71.3 with Eccles sixth graders. In West Linn-Wilsonville, their proficiency ranges from 52.8 percent with Boones Ferry Primary School third graders up to 85.1 percent of Willamette Primary School's fifth graders.

But what might be more obvious is that Trost Elementary School's scores are lower than other Canby elementary schools'. Trost is a dual language immersion school, where students are taught in both English and Spanish.

"The test is given in English, and we do most of our instruction at the beginning grades in Spanish," said Angie Navarro, Trost's principal.

Further, Navarro pointed out that close to 65 percent of Trost's students are qualified English language learners.

"There is concern that the assessment tool (SBAC) is not culturally responsive, meaning questions may be difficult for non-native English speakers," said Canby Superintendent Trip Goodall.

The school has other measures, aside from the SBAC tests, that they use to track children's progress. Despite a relatively low performance on state tests, other tests show that each year Trost students make a full year's growth or more in both languages.

According to Goodall, the district will continue to look at other assessment tools to measure whether Trost students are making the appropriate progress. Last year, the district implemented a standard dual language curriculum for language arts, and this year they are implementing a dual language math curriculum.

But Navarro doesn't expect Trost's results to look the same as other schools'.

"It's hard to compare our school with the other schools," she said.

She continued, "Parents choose this program because it has different results than other schools, and so it's going to look different along the way. But we use the same standards and the same curriculum that everyone else across the district uses. I think that's the important piece. Our teachers are well trained and lots of them have different endorsements to teach here."

GRAPHIC BY KRISTEN WOHLERS - This graph reveals the percent of elementary students at each school and in each grade level who tested as proficient in English language arts. For example, of the total population of Carus third graders, 53.9 percent tested as proficient in English language arts.GRAPHIC BY KRISTEN WOHLERS - This graph reveals the percentage of elementary students at each school and grade level who tested as proficient in math.GRAPHIC BY KRISTEN WOHLERS - Elementary students in fifth grade also took the Smarter Balanced science assessment in the spring of 2017. This graph shows the proficiency percentage at each elementary school in Canby.

Canby's high school and middle school assessment results to come.

Kristen Wohlers
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