Los Angeles Times
Saturday, June 27, 1998
Ruling That Delays Release of State Test Scores Will
Court: Officials want to limit impact to Oakland, Berkeley districts.
By NICK ANDERSON, RICHARD LEE COLVIN, Times Education
SACRAMENTO--The state Department of Education plans to file an appeal
Monday seeking to limit the impact of a court order that is expected to
delay the release of statewide standardized test scores.
A department spokesman said the state will
try to restrict the order of San Francisco Municipal Judge Ronald E. Quidachay
to Oakland and Berkeley, the two school districts that had petitioned to
block the release of the scores of students not fluent in English.
With the state facing a Tuesday deadline
for posting school and district scores on the Internet, officials hope
that the state Court of Appeal will act as soon as it receives the request
to overturn Quidachay's decision.
"There are many districts that do want
their scores reported, and we would hope that the state Court of Appeal
would view this in that light and allow us to report scores outside of
Oakland and Berkeley," Education Department spokesman Doug Stone said.
Even as they prepared their legal arguments
to overturn the ruling, Education Department officials were trying to determine
how rapidly the test score data for students fluent in English could be
separated, if necessary, from that of students not fluent in the language.
The company that administered the statewide
tests said Friday that it might take a week to redo its procedures in order
to report the scores of English-fluent students separately. It was not
clear whether taxpayers would have to pay extra for this work.
Stone said, however, that the department
may be able to do the job on its own once it receives the test score data
from Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement, the company that created the
test and is scoring it under a $35-million contract.
The company is obligated to deliver the
test results in time for them to be posted on the Internet Tuesday. The
issue is what can be made public by the state.
On Friday afternoon, state Supt. of Public
Instruction Delaine Eastin was preparing a notice for the state's 1,000
school superintendents explaining the likely holdup in release of the scores.
It was expected to go out Monday.
Despite the legal wrangling, more school districts across the state continued
Friday to make public their own test scores--an action the judge's order
did not prevent.
Ventura County Supt. of Schools Charles
Weis unveiled test results for all 20 of the county's school systems at
a news briefing, including scores from students not fluent in English.
Three districts--Oak Park, Conejo Valley
and Pleasant Valley Elementary in Camarillo--scored above the 50th percentile
in every grade in reading, language, spelling and math, meaning that the
subjects did better than 50% of their peers in a national sample. The Oak
Park district, long an academic powerhouse in the region, posted the highest
scores, with students ranking no lower than the 61st percentile in all
In Orange County, the Garden Grove Unified
School District took another route, releasing scores only for its students
fluent in English--and withholding scores of students classified as "limited
English proficient," or LEP.
"The LEP scores should be taken out
because they don't tell us much. This way, it gives us a much more valid
overview of students' performance," said Al Sims, Garden Grove's testing
The district released two categories of
scores: those for students from English-speaking homes, who scored around
the national average in reading in fourth, eighth and 10th grades; and
separate results for students coming from households speaking another language
but who have become fluent in English. Their
scores actually were somewhat higher than those of the native English-speakers.
In all, about 4.1 million California students
were tested in grades two through 11, about a fourth of them classified
as not fluent in English, according to state officials.
The Los Angeles Unified School District
has not disclosed any scores, but plans to offer a limited analysis of
them Monday in an attempt to show year-to-year improvement by some students.
Officials for the 680,000-student district,
the state's largest, said Monday's report will compare test scores of students
who took the Stanford 9 test this past spring and a similar version of
it the year before. They will not release scores for about 120,000 students
whose English was judged too poor by the district to make the test meaningful.
The Los Angeles district is one of relatively
few in the state able to make such a comparison, having given the Stanford
9 before. For most, the test was new this year.
The test was administered statewide at the
insistence of Gov. Pete Wilson, who said the testing was necessary for
all students to inform their parents how they are doing and show the public
how its schools are performing.
But the San Francisco Unified School District
defied Wilson by refusing to test 6,000 limited-English students, setting
off a court battle. The Oakland and Berkeley districts, which did test
non-fluent students, moved to join the case this week--seeking to have
those results suppressed.
The protesting districts complained that
giving English-language exams violated federal guarantees of equal access
to education because many students were being tested in a language they
did not understand.
The districts argued that they--and the
students--would be "irreparably harmed" if the scores were made
public because the results would inevitably reflect poorly on them.
Times staff writers Doug Smith, Tina Nguyen and Fred Alvarez contributed
to this story.