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[Susan notes: It's a good thing to educate the media about how test scores work.]

Published in Los Angeles Times

To the editor

Re "English Fluency Rate Causes Concern," Feb. 16

California first administered the California English Language Development Test to its English learners in 2001, and 25% scored at the top two levels. This jumped to 34% in 2002 and 43% in 2003, increases that were interpreted as signs of improvement. Scores have now have leveled off at 47% for both 2004 and 2005, causing "concern." Research tells us that the first time a new commercial test is given, scores appear to be low, and they increase each year as students and teachers get more familiar with the test and instruction is more focused on the content of the test. After a few years, improvement stops.

The trajectory of the test scores is, in other words, typical. The initial increase and subsequent flattening out of scores may have nothing to do with students improving or not improving.

Stephen Krashen

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