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Language gap means achievement gap

Matt Terrell

EAGLE COUNTY ” There are two stories with school testing ” how the English-speaking children perform, and how their Spanish-speaking counterparts are trying to catch up.

Results from the third-grade reading section of the 2007 Colorado Student Assessment Program ” known as CSAP ” were released Thursday throughout the state. The scores further indicate an achievement gap that’s growing in Eagle County as more Spanish-speaking children enroll in schools.

English-speaking third-graders beat the district’s goal of scoring at least 80 percent “proficient” or higher on the CSAP. Meanwhile, only 39 percent of third-graders who struggle with English scored “proficient.”

In 2006, 85 percent of English-speaking third-graders were proficient, and 35 percent of those who struggle with English were proficient.

Overall, 63 percent of third graders scored “proficient” or “advanced” on CSAP, which is six points lower than last year and eight points lower than the statewide score for 2007. The state score actually increased a point from last year. However, Eagle County is dealing with a much larger number of Spanish speaking students than Colorado as a whole, said Superintendent John Brendza.

“We clearly have a lot of work to do in order to bring our non-English and limited English students to the level of our English speakers,” Brendza said.

Taking a test in English if you can’t speak English is about as hard as it sounds.

“It is pretty difficult to score well on an English test when you don’t speak, read or write in that language,” said Carolyn Neff, director of elementary curriculum.

Among the 418 third-graders in Eagle County, only 56 percent are fluent in English. The rest speak only some or no English.

Avon Elementary has the largest number of students who speak little or no English ” 75 percent. Overall, only 21 percent Avon’s third-graders scored “proficient” and had the lowest scores in the district, which district officials say reflects the number of Spanish-speaking students.

“The scores reinforce our goal of moving second language students to English proficiency as quickly as possible while maintaining their progress in core subjects,” said Avon Principal Melisa Rewold-Thuon. “Over time, the dual-language program model for kindergartners at Avon will be instrumental in helping us accomplish this.”

Three schools, especially Brush Creek Elementary, showed big gains in test scores. Brush Creek had the highest scores in the district and improved its scores 16 percentage points from last year, with 92 percent of its students scoring “proficient” or higher on the CSAP. Red Sandstone Elementary increased its scores from 67 to 74 percent, and Red Hill Elementary jumped from 63 to 69 percent. Eagle County Charter Academy repeated its score of 84 from last year.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

Brush Creek Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 92%

English-speaking students: 87%

Eagle County Charter Academy

Students who scored proficient: 84%

English-speaking students: 100%

Red Sandstone Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 74%

English-speaking students: 76%

Red Hill Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 69%

English-speaking students: 66%

Eagle Valley Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 67%

English-speaking students: 64%

Gypsum Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 62%

English-speaking students: 54%

Meadow Mountain Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 56%

English-speaking students: 46%

Edwards Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 45%

English-speaking students: 39%

Avon Elementary

Students who scored proficient: 21%

English-speaking students: 25%


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