Press Release

OAKLAND, CA (May 12, 2011) The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization that works to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement for students of color and low-income students, issued the following statement regarding the release of the results of the 2010-11 California English Language Development Test (CELDT) by the California Department of Education earlier this week:

The release of data from the California Department of Education (CDE) showing a decline in the performance of English Learner (EL) students on the CELDT is a cause for profound concern. However, the CDE’s statement on this data raises even greater concerns. The release gives Californians the impression that our state is making reasonable progress in serving its English Learner students, while attributing this setback to the ongoing budget crisis. The data tell us a different story.

Five percent fewer high school English Learner students met the CELDT criterion for possible reclassification in 2010-11 than in 2009-10. And although the vast majority of the state’s English Learner students enter school in kindergarten and the early elementary years, this year the data show that more than half (59 percent) of ELs in high school are not achieving the level of proficiency required for reclassification. We know that students who are not reclassified are often tracked into lower-level coursework and are at greater risk of not graduating.

If anything, these results should be a reason for dismay rather than celebration. It is simply unconscionable that 250,000 EL students in California high schools, many of whom are long-time English Learners, have not been reclassified. Even worse, the data doesn’t tell us how many students eligible for reclassification, as measured by the CELDT, are actually being reclassified.

With nearly 1.5 million English Learner students—more than any other state’s EL population—California has a responsibility to ensure that CELDT scores go up, not down. Our elected leaders should not only be decrying the impact of the budget cuts, but also the decisions made at the local level that have inequitably stripped supports—from eliminating  summer school to shortening the length of the school year—vital to the education of our ELs. They should also remind themselves that this situation has been the same in both good times and bad, and no excuse is sufficient for the loss of educational opportunity for millions of young Californians.

# # #


About The Education Trust—West

The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.