Summit Schools show progress in English language learning |

Summit Schools show progress in English language learning

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News

The number of students required to take an English language proficiency test is decreasing in Summit Schools from kindergarten to later grades, which could mean teaching methods are working as students remain in the school system.

The number of Summit students taking the test this year dropped from 13 percent of kindergarten and first grade students to 4 percent of seniors. Those at the beginning level of English proficiency in kindergarten compared to 12th grade is inversely proportional to the number of students in the advanced category.

“In kindergarten, most students are at beginning level. When you get to 11th or 12th grade, you’re hardly seeing any,” Summit School District director of assessment and instructional technology Bethany Massey said at last week’s school board meeting. “Which means either these students are coming in knowing the language or learning it along the way.”

Though the results seem to show progress through the grades, school board members also asked if the data could mean students are dropping out of the district or switching to other outside programs.

Massey said work needs to be done to confirm whether students are actually achieving fluency or whether they’re moving out of the district.

The district’s data is largely on track with state averages. There are slightly more non-proficient and slightly fewer proficient English learners in Summit Schools, but early intermediate, intermediate and advanced tracked alongside the state figures.

“When we look at our advanced students … we’re pretty much the same last year and the same as the state,” Massey said.

The test began in 2006 and measures speaking, listening, reading and writing skills to determine how quickly students are acquiring the language. The district is required to meet three targets – that 50 percent of students make progress in learning English as measured by the test, that 6 percent of students attain proficiency by scoring “5” on the test and that the district makes adequate yearly progress on state testing for the English Language Learner group.

Summit Schools has met the first two targets, but data is still pending about whether the third has been met. Slightly more than 50 percent of students made progress this year, with 25 percent of them reaching a new level of proficiency (moving from non-proficient to limited-proficiency, or limited-proficiency to fluent). Nearly 11 percent of students became proficient according to results from the 2011 test.

“This is great for us,” Massey said. “A few years ago, we weren’t even making those two categories.”

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