CSAP can be difficult for ESL students
Your article on Friday, May 3, about the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) test scores, failed to mention one very important fact about these tests: The majority of CSAP tests are in English. A superficial comparison of the CSAP scores from different schools does not reflect the percentage of students who are second-language learners. Research shows that to have cognitive academic proficiency in a second language takes 5-7 years. Even our students who appear to be proficient in English because they have basic interpersonal communication skills, will have difficulty on an academic test in English.
The general public needs to know that the CSAP scores do not reflect the achievements of schools that have a high percentage of second-language learners. In fact, many second language learners are making more than one year gain per school year. For example, of the third-graders participating in Project Star at Carbondale Elementary, 70 percent made an average of 1 1/2 years gain this year. (Most Project Star students are second-language learners.) The CSAP scores also do not show that the English speaking students are at or well above the state average.
It is bad enough that our teachers and students are sweating bullets over the CSAP tests which our state board of education uses to “grade” schools; misinterpretation of these test scores by our own community is just not fair to the kids. They are the ones who ultimately suffer from all this pressure put on our schools to improve CSAP test scores. If we are going to compare the test scores from different schools, we must compare apples to apples by considering all the factors such as socio-economic demographics. All our schools, teachers and administrators need and deserve kudos for the great job they are doing in a challenging scholastic environment.
Carbondale Elementary School Parent
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