A widening gap

English language learners’ achievement must be boosted

The educational gap between African-American and Latino students and their white and Asian counterparts is growing, as are the differences between school districts and between more and less affluent schools. The results of the new achievement test, released this week, show why the state’s priority is to close the gap by boosting the level of learning of students like English language learners.

School authorities expected that students would post a lower level of achievement under the new Common Core system, where the tests are more demanding and better for determining students’ knowledge and preparing them for the future. Only 40% of third gradersscored at grade levelor above, while on the previous exam, 66% of students met that mark.

The difference in scores among minority students is particularly concerning. Among white and Asian students, 23% and 12%, respectively, scored in the lowest of four levels, compared to 65% of English learners, 46% of African-Americans, 41% of low-income students, and 39% of Latinos, overall.

There is a long way to go to preparethe 1.4 million English learners that now make up one fourth of California’s student body. The implications of what this means for the future and the requirements of a skilled workforce demand urgent action.

The good news is that California and its school officials will be implementing a watchdog systemto ensure that all English language learners receive the resourcesallocated to them. It took an investigation and a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to make 250 school districts deliver the services to tens of thousands of English learners for which were provided funding.

The new local funding formulapromoted by Governor Brown is a good initiative for English learners that will work if local school officialsensure proper distribution of funds, and if adults involved in education stopquarrelling over their interests and work together for the students.