Language-test numbers static

As California’s non-native students showed improvement in English proficiency this school year, the same can’t be said for those in San Mateo County, according to the results of a statewide exam.

In 2007-08, nearly 36 percent of English-learning students scored as “early advanced” or “advanced” on the California English Language Development Test, up from 32 percent the previous year, the state said. In San Mateo County, however, the number hadn’t budged from about 35 percent for both school years.

“We do take a look at our test results annually, and our students continue to make progress toward English,” said Sharon DeBiagio, curriculum director for the Millbrae School District. “[The improvement] is not a surprise. To get that feedback is terrific, but we will continue to raise that bar toward a new target so we can continue that trend.”

The results don’t necessarily mean English learners in San Mateo County are picking up the language at a slower pace than students across the state, according to local school district officials.

“While the county average is around 35 percent, Redwood City School District is a bit off in terms of the average because almost 50 percent of our students are English learners,” said Yvette Irving, the district’s director of ELL service. “That’s why when you do a comparison to the countywide average [of English learners], the results are a bit different. In Redwood City, we double the average.”

Irving also said the latest test results were tallied during a transitionalyear for her district. The district was in the process of writing a new achievement plan at the time that the test was given. The new plan is currently in place and includes an additional teacher within classrooms, new teaching materials that are specific to English-learners and time allocated each day to where all classrooms in the district are specifically teaching ELD.

“I’m sure that we will see an improvement after this year,” Irving said.

Local school districts showing improved test scores included Millbrae (up 6 percent), San Bruno Park Elementary (4), Belmont-Redwood Shores (8), Burlingame Elementary (5) and San Mateo Union (6). Some districts weighing down the county average were Ravenswood (down 6 percent), Brisbane Elementary (15) and Redwood City (3).

maldax@examiner.com

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