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Request for Waiver of Provisions Support Letter 4

Support letter from Shelly Spiegel-Coleman requesting a waiver of provisions of sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Accessible Alternative Version of the letter from Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, page 16-18 of the Waiver Support Letters (PDF; 4MB).
This document provides text translation of the letter of support from Shelly Spiegel-Coleman regarding the Request for Waiver of Provisions letter.


{Logo and letterhead for Californians Together}

Californians Together: Championing Educational Success for English Learners

525 E. 7th St, Long Beach, CA 90813, Tel: 562-983-1333, Fax: 562-436-1822

April 23, 2012

Mr. Michael Kirst

President, State Board of Education
Members, State Board of Education
1430 N. Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear President Kirst and Members of the State Board of Education:

On behalf of Californians Together’s 23 parent, professional and civil rights organizations, we have reviewed all of the previous agenda items and hearings on the possible California ESEA Waiver Application. Additionally, we thank you for providing us the opportunity to participate in the two stakeholders meetings

We support the decision for the State to submit a State Defined Waiver and as a follow-up to the meetings we offer in writing the following suggestions for the content of the waiver request. Our suggestions respond to two of the questions discussed at the Stakeholders Meeting on April 17, 2012.

  1. How can California frame an accountability system that considers academic performance over time, includes challenging yet reasonable goals, and accommodates other outcome measures as they are developed?

    Much of the discussion focused on the use of the API in a slightly different format and breaking out the math and reading/language arts results into two separate APIs; math and reading/language arts. We support this notion but want to suggest additional measures that should be added when calculating the API. Below is the original language from the Education Code referenced by the PSAA Committee when developing the initial API measure. It is clear the STAR Program and the assessments from the STAR Program are referenced as being the indicators for the API (Ed Code 52052 (4) a nd 60640).

    (4) The API shall consist of a variety of indicators currently reported to the department, including, but not limited to, the results of the achievement test administered pursuant to Section 60640, attendance rates for pupils in elementary schools, middle schools, and secondary schools, and the graduation rates for pupils in secondary schools.

    The STAR Program includes the Spanish Test in Spanish (STS). The PSAA Committee considered the STS but at that time the test was only developed for two-three grade levels and had not been widely implemented. Now the STS is available for all grade levels and available in Algebra and Geometry for secondary schools. There is no need to revise any legislation to consider the STS as an additional measure.

    We are proposing that for students taking the STS, in addition to the English CSTs, the highest score between the two tests be used for calculation of the API. For many students who are in the process of developing their language and academic proficiency, it makes sense to be able to accurately represent the knowledge of these students in their language of strength for accountability purposes.

    We also recommend including the accountability measure that the state uses for Title III Accountability based upon the CELDT score data as another indicator when calculating the API. These two additional indicators for English learners will add elements to the API that can better document English language acquisition and academic growth for English learners.

  2. What are the appropriate interventions for underperforming schools? When, how and by whom should these interventions be undertaken?

    There is a need to switch the focus of the current intervention program from minutes of instruction and state adopted textbooks designed solely for English only students to a focus on research –based instruction and programs for the designated subgroups not meeting the accountability targets. The State Defined Waiver should rely heavily on the Department’s own 2010 publication, Improving Education for English Learners: Research-Based Approaches in order to determine instruction and programs for English learners. The district and school improvement plans should be grounded in the research and practice from the publication and other evidence based programs and instructional approaches designed specially for the language and academic needs of the underperforming subgroups. This includes the notion that all students should receive instruction in the full curriculum. For English learners, concept and academic language development comes from content instruction and a narrowed curriculum handicaps that development.

    We recommend that the schools and districts set benchmarks for EL students based upon their EL proficiency and academic level, and time in US schools to set appropriate targets for all EL students and to be able to monitor the progress for each individual English learner. (See attached Annual Expectations for English Learners) Lastly, it is critical that this work extend beyond the creation of the plan required of PI schools and should include ongoing and continued support and monitoring for strong and robust implementation. As there is a body of research on instruction and programs there is also research on the “Science of Implementation” by Dean Fixen (see attached research, Implementation: The Missing Link Between Research and Practice) and what it takes to change the culture of systems and to support the educators to own and demonstrate proficiency with any new reform. This needs to be the underpinning or foundation of the work of intervention.

    Schools and districts should be able to designate either a peer school or district or outside consultants to support this work. Both the peer partners and consultants need to document that they have personnel and expertise to address the student subgroups that are underperforming requiring additional support, assistance and intervention. The majority of the team needs to have this expertise – not just one person.

Lastly, after reviewing the initial eleven ESEA Waivers submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, the majority of the states were required to resubmit because they did not adequately address the education and accountability of English learners. Without new measures for California that are sensitive to language and academic achievement of English learners and without an accountability process that is targeted at English learners and other subgroups, California’s definited ESEA waiver could also fall short. We believe including the suggestions in this letter will strengthen California’s application.

We appreciate being a part of the deliberation process on the development of the ESEA State Defined Waiver.

Sincerely,

{Signature of Shelly Spiegel-Coleman}

Shelly Spiegel-Coleman
Executive Director

CCcc: State Board of Education Members
Sue Burr, Executive Director
Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Dr. Fred Tempes, Comprehensive Assistance Center

Questions:   State Board of Education | 916-319-0827
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