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[Susan notes: The writer provides information about another factor in the Obama/Duncan merit pay scheme--and does it in a way that the public can understand.


Published in Sacramento Bee

To the editor

Re "State can't let money slip away" (Editorial, Aug. 20): The Bee argues that

California must not let federal money slip away for school reform and that we

must alter California law on the use of test results to evaluate teachers. The

problem with this position is that writers and policymakers do not understand the

tests nor their results. All STAR and NAEP exams are in English. Some 1.6 million

California students are English language learners (ELLs). At least half of these

are at a low level of English learning.

If you do not speak a language well, taking a test in that language is not a

valid measure of your knowledge. ELL students score more than 25 percent below

native English speakers on these tests. Decades of research show that tests given

in a language the student does not understand are invalid and unreliable measures

of the students' achievement.

In many classrooms, up to one-third of the students are English language

learners. If you use these test results to measure the teachers or the schools,

teachers working with ELL students will always score low. To use these scores to

evaluate teachers would be unfair, inaccurate and poorly informed.

Duane Campbell, Ph.D.

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