Non-English speakers lag in testing, study finds
Rocky Mountain News
June 7, 2007
By Berny Morson,
Students who don't speak English score far below other students in math and reading, the Pew Hispanic Center said Wednesday.
Colorado's figures followed the national trend, according to a report released by the Washington-based affiliate of the Pew Research Center.
Richard Fry, a researcher who prepared the report, said the findings aren't surprising because they are based on tests given in English. But he said the report "shows there is a lot of work to be done."
Barbara Medina, who heads English-acquisition programs at the Colorado Department of Education, said that funding has not kept up with the rapid increase in the number of non- English-speaking students.
This year, Colorado schools reported enrolling 71,582 students who speak little or no English - a 210 percent increase from 10 years ago, when the number was 23,062.
About 2,500 Colorado teachers have the special training to work with non-English-speaking students, Medina said.
The report was based on figures released in 2005 by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which conducted nationwide testing, as well as tests administered under state programs, such as the Colorado Student Assessment Program.
Nationally, only about 29 percent of non-English-speaking eighth-graders scored at the basic level or above in either math or reading on the NAEP test.
Among white students, 79 percent of eighth-graders passed the NAEP math test and 81 percent passed the reading test.
Results on Colorado's CSAP tests showed that 54 percent of students who don't speak English failed in reading at all grade levels tested. In math, 31 percent of the non-English- speaking students scored at the lowest level on the CSAP tests. The CSAP results are for 2006.
The test results may not be a good indicator of what students might know if tested in their own language, Medina said.
"We always say a test in English is a test of English," she said.
morsonb@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-5209