To better understand the relationship between the performance of our schools and our student groups, we looked at the performance of our different student groups.
Students who are not yet proficient in English are classified as English learners (ELs).
Students who are proficient in the English language are classified as English proficient (EPs).
If we just look overall at student performance, it appears that some schools do better than others. For example, here are the English Language Arts scores for our eight elementary schools:
What we noticed is that the gap between schools diminishes greatly over the grades. We considered why that might be and realized that many students come to us as ELs and then gain in English proficiency over the years. We wondered if the differences were really due in large part to the fact that students who are not proficient in English will no doubt struggle on a test in English. Therefore, we looked at the performance of two groups: English learners and English proficient students:
As we observe, if a student is an English learner, at any of our schools, their performance is below that of students who are proficient in English, and that in reality, there is very little difference between the test scores of English proficient students in our schools.
We do not have high and low performing schools; what we have are some schools with a greater number/percentage of English learners who are at a disadvantage on a test in the English language.
Bunker/Miliani Answers to Myth Presentation Questions
Scores for proficient English speakers and English learners have not improved across the board. If a student starts in 2nd grade and still has non-proficient scores in 6th grade, that is a concern.
These are average performance levels on the CST English Language Arts assessments. When our English Learners receive a proficient or higher score on the CST they are reclassified, and so by definition, all English Learners are not proficient on this assessment.
The differences are not in even in +/- 5% margin of error, or statically significant.
Determining the margin of error relies refers to the +/- 5% of the population. These results are highly significant.
The odds are statistically against achieving a two-digit improvement in next 3 years if we continue to grow at the rate we are going now. How can we as community achieve that level of improvement? What programs are in place to take care of not only underperforming students, but also for students that excel?
By definition, English Learners are not proficient on the English Language Arts assessment. The goal is to support students to obtain English proficiency. In our district when a student is reclassified to English proficiency, they perform as well or better than our English only students.
Can you vouch for at least a two-digit growth from baseline in 2016-17, or a significant uptick in growth by merging the schools?
Our goal and the focus of our work is to increase our reclassification rate, which is the purpose of our Accelerated English program. Currently students at Milani participate in this program. When the schools are merged all Bunker and Milani English Learners will have access to this program. We will not see an increase in the achievement levels of English Learners - that is meaningless; when they become proficient on the assessment they are removed from the group. We are working toward higher reclassification rates.
Are we going to start a GATE program in 2016? What are the programs in place for the English Learners this year, what are the impacts of these programs? What are the plans in place for the coming four years for these programs and how to measure the success? What is the mitigation plan if the programs do now work? I want the kids to succeed, but not at the cost of taking away from some and giving to others. I keep hear staff saying if "If the schools merge will you stop working with your kid at home? If not, the merger should not matter." Here is my answer: I will work with my kid, can you ensure that majority of the parents will engage with same enthusiasm? If not, what plans are in place to engage them?
Whether there is a GATE program - as well as means to engage all parents - will be determined by the Bunker/Milani community. The Community Merger Planning meetings and the Executive Planning Teams are looking into and discussing this option and others.