MIDDLE SCHOOL LATINO STUDENTS AND THE CSAP
Anthony Joseph Alvarez
B.A. Metropolitan State College 1995
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Arts
This thesis for the Masters of Arts
Anthony Joseph Alvarez
has been approved
~7 -Z z -D
Alvarez, Anthony Joseph (M.A., Political Science)
Middle School Latino Students and the CSAP
Thesis directed by Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado at
Denver Health Sciences Center Anna Sampaio
The purpose of this study is to examine how Latino students perform in a typical
Jefferson County Middle School. The study will specifically look at how these
students are doing on the CSAP and other standardized testing. The study will not
examine how these students compare statewide but will primarily focus on Everitt
Middle School located in the Wheat Ridge area. Specifically, I hypothesize that
bilingual education and bilingual culture will contribute to an overall Latino
improvement on testing including the CSAP.
In focusing on Everitt, I will be particularly attentive to how Latinos are preparing for
these state-wide tests. Several questions will be asked about the way they study, their
self-esteem, and whether they feel they are completely accepted in school. Interviews
will be conducted to find out how they do academically and whether or not the
teachers are reaching out to them.
Finally, the study will end by examining how Latino middle school students are doing
on the CSAP not only in Everitt but also across Jefferson County. This will help
answer the question why so many Hispanic students grades are much lower
compared to Caucasian students. Several suggestions and ideas will also be proposed
on how to raise these grades.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
I dedicate this thesis to my wife, parents, sister, and son for their unfaltering
understanding and support while I was writing this. They have been a blessing and a
joy in their unwavering backing for me to finish this paper.
I would like to thank my advisor, Anna Sampaio, for her patience with me while 1
was writing this paper. I also wish to thank Everitt Middle School for allowing me to
do this report. The information gathered has definitely made a change in my life and
in my teaching style.
1. INTRODUCTION ......................................... 1
Methods ....................................... 5
Signposts ..................................... 8
2. HISTORY OF THE CSAP .................................. 10
3. RESPONSES TO THE CSAP ..................... 16
Responses to the CSAP ..................... 16
Responses by Everitts Latino Students ........ 19
Brief History of Latinos and State Assessments. 23
Responses by Everitts ESL Students............ 27
4. BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND THE CSAP ..................... 30
Brief History of Bilingual Education and Its Use in the
United States ................................. 31
Bilingual Education at Everitt Middle School... 37
Bilingual Education and the CSAP ............... 42
Summary ........................................ 45
5. GESA TRAINING AND LATINO STUDENTS ..................... 47
Perceptions and Instructional Contact .......... 49
Self Esteem .................................... 52
Higher Level Questioning ....................... 56
GESA Training Results .......................... 61
6. SUMMARY AND SUGGESTIONS........................... 64
Eveiy summer, the state newspapers release the Colorado Student Assessment
Performance test (CSAP) scores to the public. Principals and teachers across the state
methodically assess the released information to evaluate how their students
performed. Some are ecstatic about the results while others, disappointed about the
low-test grades, may start planning for changes needed for the upcoming school year.
Because these scores are published for the public to see, these tests have become a
major concern for schools and have changed the way curriculums and standards have
been developed. Ever since 1995, when the CSAP was first used, several schools had
to improve their teaching of standard-based curriculums or face the danger of being
converted into a charter school.
Cole Middle School in Denver faced that situation in 2004 when it received a
failing CSAP grade for the third year in a row. When this occurred, the Colorado
Department of Education announced that in 2005, this school would be the very Erst
Denver public school to be converted. This announcement sent shockwaves across
the state and struck fear in the hearts of other schools. For example, Bruce Randolph
Middle School, located near Cole, became concerned that they may be the next
school converted if their CSAP scores dont improve (Sherry, 2004).
Due to this uneasiness, many schools have started to prepare students earlier than they
usually would. Robert Woodson, principal of Maxwell Elementary in northeast
Denver said that in early August, Weve already started thinking about CSAPs. We
need to assess all our students and help them to do better (Sherry, 2004).
Before Cole was to be converted into a charter school, they made the effort to
try and increase their schools by offering different programs to their students.
Throughout the school year, parents were enthusiastically trying to better educate
their children by having them stay after school, get extra tutoring and even have them
do extra homework all in preparation for these standardized tests (Olvera, 2004). But
even with all of this work, the school still failed to receive adequate marks in their
overall grades. So what was it that made this school not pass?
One reason could be the makeup of the schools student population. Cole is
unlike many middle schools in Jefferson, Adams, or Douglas County because it is
located in the inner city area of a major metropolis. But what is more interesting is
that the school is comprised mainly of Latino students. According to the Colorado
Department of Education, Cole Middle School had 308 Latino, 108 African-
American and only 5 Caucasian students in their 2003-2004 population. This
translates to 98% of the student population being non-Caucasian (Cole Middle School
Profile, 2003). Statistically, schools with higher concentrations of low income ethnic
minority students tend to score lower on the CSAP and receive substandard grades
such as Partially Proficient or even Unsatisfactory (2004 CSAP and Colorado ACT
Press Release, 2004). According to the Colorado Department of Education, 13
percent of all Colorado Latino students in 2004 received Unsatisfactory grades, 54
percent were rated Partially Proficient and 25 percent were considered Proficient.
Only 8 percent of these students were considered Advanced. This is a stark
difference from Caucasian students where only 3 percent were Unsatisfactory, 33
percent Partially Proficient, 49 percent Proficient and 15 percent advanced (2004
CSAP and Colorado ACT Press Release, 2004).
Even though this information shows that many Latino students are struggling
on these tests, it is unfair to assume that Latinos and African-American students do
poorly on the CSAP only because they are in schools where most of the student
populations are minorities. For example, Denvers East High Schools population is
46% white, 38% African American, 2% American Indian, 2% Asian, and 12%
Latino. Following the theory that predominately minority schools do poorly on the
CSAP, East should be struggling each year on these tests but instead this school is
doing quite well. According to the 2003-2004 CSAP scores, East received an average
grade and actually scored in the average and excellent range among Latino and
African American students in both Reading and Math (East High School Profile,
But not all schools with predominately minority students are performing at
the same level as East. Several schools in Jefferson County have minorities struggle
on the CSAP tests each year. One school in particular that will be the focus of this
paper is Everitt Middle School located in Wheat Ridge. During the 2003-2004 year,
this schools population was 19 percent Latino (109 students), 2 percent African
American (10 students), 2 percent American Indian (11 students), and 75 percent
Caucaisn (428 students). Even though a majority of the Caucasian students did well
on the test, many of the minority students struggled on the CS AP. For example, out
of the 109 Latino students, only 18 scored in the proficient and advanced realms
(Everitt Middle School: School Profile, 2004). The test grades compiled from these
students were so much lower than their 7th and 8th grade counterparts that they may
have impacted the overall scores for Everitt. So instead of being in the high or
excellent range, Everitt only scored an average grade.
This discrepancy is further highlighted especially when looking at the
demographics of not only Everitt but other Jefferson County middle schools that have
a heavy Latino population. For example, Wheat Ridge Middle School student
population for 2003-2004 was 58 percent Latino while Arvada Middle boasted a
Latino population of 29 percent. Both of these schools scored in the unsatisfactory
range on the 2003-2004 CS AP scores which was in contradiction to Deer Creek
Middle that had only 6 percent of their student population being Latino but still
scored in the proficient and advanced range (Jefferson County 2003-2004 CSAP
These low test scores by Latino students on the CSAP is a concern for all
schools across Colorado. The fear still resonates that these scores will continue to
pull them into the lower categories of the CSAP, which will further cause them to be
considered an unsatisfactory school that could be involuntarily converted to a charter
To help schools and parents better respond to this anxiety, this study was
designed to find a reason for these low test scores. The thesis for this paper is that
these low Latino test scores exist primarily because of the inclusion of English as a
Second Language (ESL) students scores. The reason why many schools are
struggling on the CSAP is because the ESL students scores are combined with other
English speaking Latino students thus creating the perception that the school is
struggling secondary to the overall Latino population.
To further explain how these Latino ESL students influence CSAP scores,
various types of research are needed. The information used in this study was
compiled in three distinct ways: structured interviews, participant observation and
through statistics and data.
Interviews were first conducted to find out what students, teachers and the
principal felt about the CSAP and how it related to the ESL program. The first ones
interviewed were the students. Three students, Becky, Carla and Tommy, were
asked questions about the operation of the CSAP and how it was utilized at Everitt
Middle School. The questions asked related to how they prepared for the CSAP,
what they did in the classroom and their knowledge about its importance.
The students were also asked about the ESL program, how it worked and its
relationship to the CSAP. Since each student interviewed was in ESL, their insight in
the way the program operated became an invaluable resource. They spoke about
practice CSAP tests, the various procedures used for these assessments, and how
Everitts test taking procedure differed from what they experienced in elementary
Second, the teachers were interviewed about their knowledge of the CSAP.
Two teachers were primarily interviewed about how they administered these tests and
the restrictions placed on them during CSAP testing. The ESL teacher was especially
useful because she dealt exclusively with bilingual students on a daily basis. She
spoke about the students test preparation and her restrictions in translating the CSAP
for her students.
Third, the school principal was also interviewed. Her questions did not deal
primarily with CSAP but was more focused on Latino activities that were being done
at Everitt. Her questions mainly dealt with Latino celebrations being done at the
school, the upstart GESA program and her views about the schools ESL program.
Even though the interviews were important, participant observation was also
very helpful. Since I am a teacher at Everitt Middle School, I was privy to the CSAP
guidelines for both English and bilingual students. During the 2004-2005 school
year, I not only administered the tests given to Everitts mainstream students but also
observed how ESL students did on the tests. In one case, I witnessed the
administration of the test in the ESL classroom and saw firsthand the restrictions
placed on these students. During this observation, it was obvious that many of these
bilingual students struggled not only to understand the CSAP instructions but also the
language of the questions. Since the guidelines of the CSAP restricted any type of
teacher involvement, these students were expected to do these tests on their own.
The use of participant observation was very invaluable in my research because
I was able to get information that was not easily accessible to the public. I was able
to End information and statistics from the counselors as well as school records that
further enlightened the problems of the CSAP. This included the number of Latino
students that have struggled on these assessments including a breakdown of those that
were non-ESL and those that were bilingual.
Even though the use of interviews and participant observation was very
useful, none of it was as crucial as the use of statistics and data. The data used were
retrieved from the CDE (Colorado Department of Education) Web site for English
CSAP results, and from files on the Spanish CSAP at the CDE. This data was
examined at three levels: statewide, district wide, and school wide for Everitt Middle
School. The inclusion of the Spanish data contributed to a better understanding of the
performance of Latinos at this grade level and to clarify their CSAP results.
Information was also used from several books, articles and research done in
this field. For example, several newspaper articles were utilized that focused on the
demise of Cole Middle School and how its upcoming conversion was a concern for
several other unsatisfactory schools. These resources not only clarified the
problems that several middle schools are facing but also brought to light the plight
that many Latino students are facing statewide.
Though the newspaper articles helped clarify the problems with schools and
the CSAP, the books tended to focus more on bilingual education than anything else.
These books examined how bilingual education has been used in other schools and
the success that students have found in it. What really became insightful was how
this information, when paired with current CSAP results, really did bring to light the
problems that many ESL students are facing with these tests. Using these different
types of methodology, it became apparent and clear that these ESL students have
difficulty understanding the CSAP and that they still need more assistance in regards
to these tests.
To further explain the way Latino ESL students have impacted CSAP scores,
there needs to be an examination in three areas. First, there will a section about the
Latino responses to the CSAP. This will include a look at the way Latino students
and ESL students have performed on these tests over the years. The focus will be
primarily placed on Everitt students and how they have done on these tests.
Second, there will be a look at bilingual education at Everitt Middle School
and how this correlates with the CSAP. I will examine how the English as a Second
Language (ESL) classes were first developed and how they work today. There will
be a special emphasis on the ESL program at Everitt, how the classes are set up and
how these classes deal with the CSAP.
Finally, this study will look at a possible solution being pioneered at Everitt in
order to raise the test grades of Latino students called GESA. In this program,
teachers are taught how to better cope with minority students while helping them
raise their grades on the CSAP.
HISTORY OF THE CSAP
The CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) was developed by
CTB/McGraw Hill (1998) as a means of assessing achievement of the Colorado
content standards. It is one of the longest-standing programs in the United States and
began in the 1996-1997 school year with the testing of fourth graders in reading and
writing (2004 CSAP and Colorado ACT Press Release, 200S). It is a standards-based
test based on the Colorado model content standards and measures student progress
toward meeting the standards but it is not designed to compare students to each other
(2004 CSAP and Colorado ACT Press Release, 2005).
The CSAP was created as part of the education reform legislation, HB93-1313
in 1993 and was intended to be a criterion-referenced test to measure students
mastery of content (Escamilla at al, 2003). In May, after months of spirited debate,
the Colorado General Assembly passed this standards-based education law. The
rationale for this law was that student achievement should be based on results; that all
students could reach high standards; that uniform standards were needed across the
state, and that this new approach to education focused on what was learned, not on
what was taught (2004 CSAP and Colorado ACT Press Release, 2005).
These state standards were to be developed and adopted by the State Board
and local boards in the areas of art, civics, economics, foreign language, geography,
history, mathematics, music, physical education, reading and writing, and science. A
panel of curriculum and assessment experts was established entitled the Standards
and Assessment Development and Implementation (SADI) Council that, with the
assistance of numerous experts, curriculum and organizations, developed the content
standards (2004 CSAP and Colorado ACT Press Release, 2005).
Through the use of these standards, the state mandated that all Colorado
public school students needed to take these yearly assessments. For the state
lawmakers, the purpose of the CSAP was then to provide a picture of student
performance on state academic content standards and this information was to be used
for educators, policymakers, and the public as a context for improving public
education. This program was designed to assess students, not to evaluate teachers
and it was stated that neither students nor teachers would be penalized. What
students learned up to the time of the assessment was the result of many factors,
including all previous instruction from other teachers (History and purpose of the
Colorado Student Assessment Program, 2005).
The original plan was to have these state assessments phased in both by grade
and subject area. The first, or phase-in, year for each grade and subject area was the
baseline assessment for that grade and subject area. The information used by this first
year assessment measured the levels of student performance and indicated where the
students were in their standards-based education that was implemented across the
state (History and purpose of the Colorado Student Assessment Program, 2005).
The assessments were then expanded from this first year of testing and are
now implemented every year. Assessments in reading, writing, mathematics, and
science are administrated by regular classroom teachers every second semester. In
the spring of each school year, reading, writing and mathematics assessments are
administered to students in grades 3 through 10; the science assessment is
administered to students in grade 8. Test results for grade 3 reading are available in
May and the results for all other tests are available at a later date (2004 CSAP and
Colorado ACT Press Release, 2005).
The results report the percentage of the students in each of four performance
levels unsatisfactory, partially proficient, proficient, or advanced as well as the
percentage or students who received no scores. Summaries of school, district, and
state results including breakdowns by gender, ethnicity, and disability, are provided to
the public. This information is useful for evaluating the curricular and instructional
programs. These results for individual students are provided directly to school
districts and remain confidential. Each school district determines how individual
student results are used. For example, a students results could be passed on to
parents or guardians, given to the students fall teacher, or kept in the students file
(History and purpose of the Colorado Student Assessment Program, 2005).
The legislature decided to give the test to all children in grades 4,8 and 11,
rather than to random schools as originally planned. Since the CSAP is a criterion-
based test, students are expected to show that they acquired the knowledge
appropriate to a particular subject at a particular grade level. In 1999, the test was
changed (partially at the request of those in the field to use test results for diagnostic
purposes) to annual testing in reading in grades 3-10, writing in grades 4-10, math in
grade 5-10, and science in grade 8. Starting in 2005, grades 3 and 4 took the math
test and starting in 2006 the science test will also be given in grades 5-10, to meet
requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Each year 25% of the questions are
taken off the test and used as sample questions. Those are replaced with the same
number of questions to keep the test varied and current (CS AP: A Study of
Effectiveness of CSAP in Jefferson County, 2005).
Because the goal of these tests is to see remarked improvement by all
students, the school scores have changed over time. In the spring of 1997,1998, and
1999, all fourth graders took the reading and writing CSAP assessment. In reading:
1997 57% of fourth graders were Advanced or Proficient; 1998 57% Advanced or
Proficient; 1999 59% Advanced or Proficient. In writing: 1997 31% of fourth
graders Advanced or Proficient; 1998 36% Advanced cm- Proficient; 1999 34%
Advanced or Proficient. In the spring of 1999, all seventh graders took the reading
and writing CSAP assessment and these scores showed 56% Advanced or Proficient
in reading; 41% Advanced or Proficient in writing (Colorado State Assessment
Program (CSAP), 2005).
This information gathered from the CSAP is then used to measure a schools
proficiency. For example in the late 1990s the legislature required the Colorado State
Board of Education (CSBE) to use the CSAP scores for accreditation of schools and
districts. According to Senate Bill 186, the CSAP scores are used to determine how
well a school is performing through the use of a School Accountability Report (SAR)
(CSAP: A Study of Effectiveness of CSAP in Jefferson County, 2005).
! According to the CSAP rules, every student in a grade level must take these
i tests but there are a few that are excluded because they are special need students or do
not speak, write, or read English. On average, only three percent of students in a
grade level are excluded (Colorado State Assessment Program (CSAP), 2005). The
Colorado Department of Education lists that those students that are Limited English
I Speakers that have three years or less of speaking English are exempt from taking
| these tests (Accommodations and the CSAP, 2005). For example, one student
j interviewed relayed that he will not have to take the test until he is a freshman in high
| school because he just recently moved to Colorado from Mexico (Interview with
Tommy Hernandez, April 2005).
The reason why these exceptions exist is because the CSAP is only provided
in English up until the third grade (Accommodations and the CSAP, 2005). The
elementary school Spanish version of the CSAP was developed as a parallel
assessment to the English CSAP. Both assessments were developed to measure the
same content standards in reading and writing. Both have the same formats in
reading and writing and a comparable number of items. Validity and reliability of
both the English and Spanish CSAP tests were established using identical statistical
measurements. But because of the push for English immersion, after the third grade,
the CSAP is now only offered in English.
Originally, schools were expected to improve their CSAP scores by 25% over
a three year period. Now the law has been rewritten and schools are expected to
attain reasonable growth or a years growth each year (CSAP: A Study of
Effectiveness of CSAP in Jefferson County, 2005). For those schools that dont grow
as much as expected, they go through improvements or corrections stipulated by the
state. These corrections are the use of Title I money to transport students to a non-
failing school or pay for tutors for its students (2004 CSAP and Colorado ACT Press
If a school does not grow or succeed over this three year span, they could be
converted to a charter school (A Guide for Parents, 2005). According to current
legislation, that means it can never return to public school status and if that charter
school subsequently fails, the school will then be made into a different charter school.
Because of this, there came the rise of numerous criticisms and responses to the way
the CSAP was being administered.
RESPONSES TO THE CSAP
Ever since the CSAP was created, there has been a lot of controversy and
debate about its purpose. Teachers, principals and parents have argued that the tests
have become nothing more than a severe form of evaluation on how teachers and
schools are performing.
It is these kinds of responses that will be focus of this chapter and this will be
done in three distinct areas. First, there will be an examination as to how the CSAP
has been received by the community. This will be done by looking at responses
mentioned by students and teachers. Second, there will be an examination on how
these responses impact the Latino students at Everitt. Finally, there will be a focus on
how the CSAP impacts those Latino bilingual students at Everitt.
Responses to the CSAP
When the CSAP was first introduced, parents and teachers were uncertain
about what to expect (Jimenez, 2000). Historically, these tests decided which
students should be placed in special classes such as remedial reading and advanced
placement courses. The CSAP has changed that because now instead of targeting
those students that need extra help, the whole school is now punished for receiving a
bad grade. Due to this scoring system, many parents and teachers have started to
question why the CSAP even needs to be done.
For example, former principal Lynn Sampinato quit because she didnt agree
with the CSAP ideal. She resigned in protest over Governor Bill Owens report card
system for the school, telling the board of education, As a true believer in public
education, I cannot be a participant in this demise. (Ohanian, 2000). Retired Greeley
teacher Don Perl agrees with this sentiment and has been fighting the CSAP ever
since it was instigated. He believed that they are too expensive to administer and that
the government uses the test as a threat to take away funding instead of using it as a
diagnostic tool. Perl said, The threat is that if those schools dont do well, they will
be taken over by the government and turned into a charter school. Who knows what
kind of chaos that will bring? (Rouse, 2004).
These feelings toward the CSAP and other standardized tests have been
growing and have even affected the way some parents treat the test. For example, in
the Poudre School District, several Latino and Caucasian families have even
prohibited their children from taking these yearly assessments as a way of challenging
the legality of the test and to express their dissent (Nick, 2004). When this happens
the school has no choice but to offer these students a chance to makeup these tests or
be given a zero (General Administration Information, 2005).
The Coalition for Better Education even listed their own grievances as to what
is wrong with these tests. First, they see the tests as being potentially harmful to the
students. They say that children are being tested far more often than in the past.
Teachers in most districts are being advised to stress the importance of the CSAPs to
both the children and the parents. Many children are getting very anxious about
CSAP well in advance of the tests and are being prepared earlier than usual. Due to
this emphasis, the test preparation have taken over days of instruction thus limiting
the amount of education done throughout the school year (Problems with CSAP,
Second, they see high stakes testing as being an inherently bad idea. For them
high stakes test is one which measures how well a school and its students are
performing and uses the scores to make important decisions. Sometimes the schools
test scores are used to decide if the school will receive additional funding or not. The
scores have also been used to decide to convert low-performing schools into charter
schools. This is what happened to Cole Middle School in Denver (Problems with
Finally, in this system, too much emphasis has been placed on punishing
low-performing schools and not enough on helping those schools improve. Many of
the factors that cause students to not perform well are beyond the teachers' control
such as health, nutrition, family background, frequent moves, and home language.
Holding teachers accountable for all aspects of students lives is only likely to
increase antagonism between teachers and students (Problems with CSAP, 2004).
What is stated by the Coalition for Better Education group is not anything
new. As mentioned earlier, teachers and principals across the state have had a lot of
problems with the way the CSAP is organized and how it has impacted students. One
example of this can be seen with the Latino students at Everitt Middle School.
Responses bv Everitts Latino Students
In order to fully understand the responses to the CSAP by Everitts Latino
students, there needs to be an understanding of what the school is like. Everitt
Middle School was established in 1966 and in 2003-2004 serviced 569 students
(Everitt Middle School: School Profile, 2003-2004). There are approximately 30
teachers in the school with 10 of those being male. There is currently only one Latino
male teacher and a Latina female counselor while the rest of the staff is Caucasian.
Throughout its history, Everitt has been a cornerstone in the Wheat Ridge
area. The students that attend this middle school typically transfer to Wheat Ridge
High School, which also has a predominately Caucasian population. According to the
Colorado Department of Education, Wheat Ridge High School had 1,476 students
that were Caucasian where only 207 (14%) of the students were Latino (Wheat Ridge
High School: School Profile, 2004). This number reflects the city of Wheat Ridge
itself of which approximately 13 percent of the population are Latino (Wheat Ridge
City, Colorado Statistics and Demographics (U.S. Census 2000)).
In recent years this demographic composition changed when Jefferson County
started the open enrollment policy to boost student numbers in struggling schools.
Schools such as Everitt Middle started to see a large number of Denver based students
starting to move into their area (Sherry and Sanchez, 2005). Among this growing
student population, many were Latino and thus schools such as Wheat Ridge Middle
and Everitt started to increase their Latino student base. Because of Everitts
proximity to Denver, many families took advantage of this open enrollment and
started to send their children to these two Middle Schools. For example during the
school year of 2003-2004, Everitt accepted 15 new students that lived outside of the
area (Interview with Principal, March 2005; Everitt Middle School: School Profile,
2004). As such, the number of Latino students rose during the past ten years and now
Latino students comprise close to 25 percent of the student population, with that
number increasing each year (Everitt Middle School: School Profile, 2004).
Even though the number of students has been growing at Everitt, there CSAP
scores have not. According to the 2002-2003 CSAP test scores, only 17 students
scored in the advanced range of the tests. This is a vast difference to the 137
Caucasian students that received high scores. What is even more striking is that only
37 percent of the Latino students scored in this range in comparison to the 66 percent
of the Caucasian students (Jefferson County Schools: School Online Assessment
Reporting System, 2003).
The numbers for both the proficient and partially proficient realms are not
positive either. 16 Latino students scored proficient on the CSAP compared to the
119 Caucasians. This relates to 35 percent of the Latinos being proficient compared
to 57 percent of Caucasians. On the partially proficient realm, 15 Latinos fell into
this category compared to the 43 Caucasian students. But this time the percentages
changed. 33 percent of the Latinos fell into this category compared to only 21
percent for Caucasian students (Jefferson County Schools: School Online
Assessment Reporting System, 2003).
What is the most disturbing part of these scores has to be the Unsatisfactory
category. In this area 14 Latinos were scored compared to 27 Caucasians. That
means 30 percent of the Latinos did not perform well on the CSAP compared to only
13 percent for the white students (Jefferson County Schools: School Online
Assessment Reporting System, 2003).
These numbers indicate that 63 percent of the Latino students at Everitt scored
in the Partially Proficient or Unsatisfactory category. That is a huge difference
compared to the 34 percent of Caucasian students that scored in this range. Without a
doubt, this shows that there is a major discrepancy between the two groups in regards
to their CSAP scores.
One reason why these Latino students are struggling is that there is no
connection between them and the CSAP. For example, every Tuesday the teachers
are asked to give practice CSAP tests to their students. These sample papers are not
meant to test the students on their knowledge of any particular subject but to be used
as a tool to demonstrate how to properly answer the questions on the tests. For
example, a math practice test shows how the student is not only to fully read the
instructions but also needs to make sure that they answer only on the lines provided.
If they write outside of the lines, they will be deducted a point.
Typically, the students attitudes toward these practice tests are not very
positive and even though some students take them seriously, many do not put any
effort into answering the questions. For example, the ESL teacher commented that
her disinterested students either wrote down nonsense answers or didnt even reply to
the questions because they knew that it would not affect their class grades (Interview
with Mrs. Smith, March 2005).
For some Latino middle school students, who are more likely to be at least
two grades behind their white counterparts, this individual effort in school may make
little sense (Braddock, 1990). For these students, they see these school assessments
as nothing more than an extra chore that must be completed. Some may take it
seriously but very few of them put the conscious effort to try to do their best since
many of them are already below grade level.
This attitude correlates with the idea that these CSAP practices are not geared
toward them. In elementary school, many of the students activities had a
multicultural emphasis. According to the Jefferson County standards, Mexico and
Canada education modules are required for sixth grade and include several lessons
that are specifically designed to reach out to the Latino students in the classroom (Our
Neighbors to the North and the South, 2005).
This was substantiated in the comments by one student who told me that the
lessons in sixth grade focused on my Mexican heritage. I learned about all sorts of
activities and celebrations that made me feel welcome and wanted (Interview with
Becky Martinez, March 2005). This was further supported by another student that
told me that my sixth grade teacher helped us get ready for the CSAP by using
lessons from our Mexican unit. That definitely made it a lot easier (Interview with
Carla Marquez, March 2005). But this sense of cultural pride is lost in these practice
CSAPs. None of the lessons focused on multiculturalism but instead focused
primarily on the semantics of taking the tests.
Brief History of Latinos and State Assessments
So why have these Latino students scored so low on the CSAP? Historically,
Latino students score low in testing which has caused a lot of debate as to why. For
years, there have been concerns about how minorities, especially Latinos, are tested.
However, it was not until the 1960s that this issue reached a national audience.
During the civil rights movement, previously underserved communities voiced their
concerns that everyone has a right to equal opportunity in all sectors of life, including
education. This was highlighted by concerns that Latino and other minority students
placement process. In each case, there were changes made in the way non-English
students were placed in certain classes. For example, the Diana v. California State
Board of Education case made it a requirement for parents to be notified if their child
is to be placed in a remedial class. The Larry P. v. Riles case established that
standardized tests cannot be the sole reason for a student to be placed in special
education courses (Gonzales et al, 1998).
These cases were also important because they argued that the use of certain
tests was an inappropriate assessment because they were only given in English. The
underlying premise of these cases was that the elimination of unfair identification and
placement practices for low-ability, remedial, and special education programs would
solve many of the problems for Latino students (Gonzales et al, 1998).
In May 25,1970 the evidence of these changes came about when the Office of
Civil Rights issued a memorandum to all school districts. This memo, entitled
Identification of Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of National
Origin, presented research on how schools were failing minority students
(Identification of Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of National
Origin, 1970). This was an attempt to enforce action against discriminatory practices
leading to segregation or denial of equal access to the full benefits of an educational
program to minority children (Gonzales et al, 1998). Because of this effort, school
districts are now expected to adapt their educational approach so that the culture,
language, and learning styles of all children in the school (including but not limited to
needs were not being met in the educational system. This was evidenced by the
common practice to place Latino students into remedial programs. Valencia and
Aburto (1991) reported that many Latino students were placed into slower ability
tracks and low-grade vocational education curricula because of their performance
on administered intelligence tests done in the 1920s and 1930s (Valencia, 1991).
As such, it was not uncommon to find Latino students referred to development
centers or to be labeled mentally retarded if their scores on IQ tests were 70 or
below. By the 1960s the placement of Latino students into remedial, low-ability
tracking programs or special education programs became commonplace and many of
these students did not get the full educational support they needed (Gonzales et al,
1998). Rueda and Mercer reported that, although Latino students comprised less than
10 percent of the school population in 1985, they constituted 32 percent of the
students identified as mentally retarded (Rueda and Mercer, 1985). Additionally, for
over 62 percent of these students, the only symptom of mental deficiency evidenced
was their low I.Q. test scores (Gonzales et al, 1998).
Due to complaints and protests, litigation on behalf of students whose rights
were violated came into the public spotlight in several court cases. For example, the
Covarrubias v. San Diego (1971) case dealt with placement procedures and whether
or not the consent of parents should be done prior to a student being placed in a lower
level class. In the case of Diana v. California State Board of Education (1970) and
Larry P. v. Riles (1979), both challenged the misuse of tests in the special education
those of the Anglo children) are accepted and valued (Identification of Discrimination
and Denial of Services on the Basis of National Origin, 1970).
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment continued the
changes suggested by the Office of Civil Rights by addressing discriminatory
practices such as the misdiagnosing of a minority student on the basis of a test
assigned to remedial education programs that do not provide needed services (Civil
Rights Act, 1964). This usually resulted from disproportionate representation of
minority children in low-ability tracking or special education classes, which included
the inclusion of mandatory federal English as Second Language classes and the use of
bilingual education at all schools (Oakland, 1976). Unfortunately this bilingual
placement in remedial or low-ability tracking programs is difficult to analyze due to
lack of documentation (Gonzales et al, 1998).
From this perspective, it is clear how assessments can hamper the way Latino
students are taught in public schools. Unfortunately these Latino students still
continue to score lower than other groups on standardized tests that assess
competence at all levels (Valencia and Aburto, 1991). Appropriate assessment of
Latino students is still a critical issue (Gonzales et al, 1998).
Responses bv Everitts ESL students
Historically then, Latino students have struggled on state assessments which
still continues today on the CSAP. But one item that is often overlooked is the
inclusion of bilingual students scores and how their scores can alter the grades of all
Since there is no breakdown on the CSAP report card between those students
that are in the bilingual program or not, all Latino scores are lumped together. This
means the Latino scores includes both ESL students as well as though proficient in
English and this does make a huge impact.
According to the 2002-2003 CSAP scores, the ESL students did not score
very high on the CSAP. Out of the eleven students that took the math test, only one
student received a proficient rank, seven students were partially proficient and three
were unsatisfactory. On the reading part of the test: two students were proficient, six
were partially proficient and only two were unsatisfactory (Jefferson County Schools:
School Online Assessment Reporting System, 2003).
Even though these numbers are not even close to being on par with the other
Latino students, they still are not as low as many would expect. But these CSAP
scores dont reveal the true deficiencies that many of these students have. Each of
these scores posted are the average grades that these students receive in a variety of
standards. When you break each question down to these standards, a more shocking
tale is revealed.
In the math portion of the test, the students are scored on their knowledge in
categories such as geometiy and algebra. In each case, the ESL students score very
low. For example, in the category of number sense, the students are to answer
questions that use the relationships among fractions, decimals and percents (Colorado
! Standards: CSAP Mathematics Assessment Frameworks Grade 7, 2005). Only two
| students were partially proficient, the other nine students were unsatisfactory. On
questions relating to Algebra, the students are to represent, describe and analyze
j patterns and relationships using hands-on materials (Colorado Standards: CSAP
Mathematics Assessment Frameworks Grade 7,2005). Only one student was
i partially proficient, the other ten were unsatisfactory. On data analysis where the
students are to read, construct, compare and contrast displays of data, only four
| students were partially proficient while the other seven were unsatisfactory (Jefferson
| County Schools: School Online Assessment Reporting System, 2003). Throughout
' the math portion of the CSAP the ESL students scored low in each category with
| none of the students scoring higher than partially proficient.
| The scores in the reading section are not much better. For example, on the
| category of reading and understanding a variety of materials, the students are to
i determine purposes for reading text and should be able to adjust their reading
| strategies (Colorado Standards: CSAP Reading Assessment Frameworks Grade 7,
2005). On this question, only three students were partially proficient with the rest
being unsatisfactory (Jefferson County Schools: School Online Assessment
Reporting System, 2003). In regards to locating, evaluating and using relevant
information, the students are expected to consult organizational features of printed
texts and electronic sources to access information (Colorado Standards: CSAP
Reading Assessment Frameworks Grade 7,2005). On this question, only one student
was partially proficient while the other ten scored in the unsatisfactoiy category
(Jefferson County Schools: School Online Assessment Reporting System, 2003). As
with math, the scores in each subcategory were very low. Only one student scored in
the proficient range while a majority of the students scored unsatisfactory.
So why are so many ESL students scoring so much lower than Caucasian and
even other Latino students? In order to find out the reason, there must be a look at
the ESL program as it has developed historically and how it is implemented at
BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND THE CSAP
There has to be a reason why so many of these students are scoring so low.
Arguably, one of the most influential factors for these low test scores is the use of
bilingual education in schools, which has been debated for a number of years. This
debate still continues today because of the No Child Left Behind Act enacted in
2002. Opponents of bilingual education saw this bill as a potential threat to the
makeup of a school and a hindrance to many test scores including the CSAP because
they believed that it would further segregate the students in the classroom (Crawford,
2003). To clarify the problems that bilingual education has gone through and how it
affects the CSAP, this topic is centered on three primary issues: first, there will be a
quick overview on the history of bilingual education in this country including how it
fits within the roles of taking standardized tests; second, there will be an examination
on how bilingual education works at Everitt Middle school; finally, there will be a
look at how these bilingual students use what they learn in their ESL classes to
prepare for the CSAP.
Brief History of Bilingual Education and
Its Use in the United States
Contemporary language politics in the United States first emerged in the
1960s in reference to educational policy for language minority students in the public
schools, especially Latino students. Initiated before the current wave of immigration
to the United States took on these proportions, the beginnings of the movement for an
innovative approach to education for students from non-English-speaking homes was
perceived by most policymakers as an equal opportunity program for culturally
disadvantaged American minority students (Schmidt, 2000)
The first national legislation in this movement was the Bilingual Education
Act of 1968, which amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
(ESEA) by adding Title VII. Arguing that poverty and ignorance had denied millions
of Americans an opportunity to live the American dream, by 1966 President Lyndon
Johnson had pushed through Congress a sweeping series of domestic policy
innovations known collectively as the Great Society program. The ESEA, by
establishing the first large-scale federal program in support of local schools was by
far the most significant of its initiatives in the field of education (Sundquist, 1968).
Present bilingual education policies had their origins in this Great Society
quest for equal opportunity for the disadvantaged, especially for minorities. By the
middle 1960s mounting evidence showed that non-English-speaking students in the
public schools suffered unusually high dropout rates and progressively lower
academic achievement scores compared to their English-speaking peers. The
inability to speak English came to be viewed by many educators and activists as an
important obstacle standing in the way of equal opportunity for these Americans
Political support for the use of bilingual education started to grow in the late
1960s and 1970s. One of the biggest examples of this was the 1974 Lau v. Nichols
decision. In this ruling on a class action suit brought against the San Francisco
Unified School District on behalf of Chinese-speaking elementary school students,
the Court held the 1964 Civil Rights Act to mean that failure by a school district to
provide instruction in language students can understand is unlawful discrimination
that violates those students civil rights (Schmidt, 2000). Because of this case, there
was a stronger push for schools to use alternative methods to educating non-English-
What also made a major change was Congress adoption of the 1974 Equal
Educational Opportunities Act thereby codifying the language used by the Court.
Section 1703(f) of the act prohibited the failure by an educational agency to take
appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by
its students in its instructional program (Salomone, 1986). Thus, by the middle 1970s
bilingual education had become a nation-wide force for change in the public schools.
In addition to the federal law, many states enacted legislation authorizing or
mandating bilingual education in their public schools (Schmidt, 2000).
This enactment of bilingual education has affected the way public schools
now deal with their growing number of ESL students. In 1960, there were about 5
million persons of school age (6-18) in the United Sates who were Limited English
Proficient (LEP) with a majority of them speaking Spanish (Gaardar, 1977). It is
reliably estimated that over 3 million of this group did in fact retain the use of their
original language and spoke it freely at home. Today, the number of school children
who use the non-English mother tongue has dramatically grown. According to the
2000 censure there are roughly 28 million Spanish-speakers, 2 million Chinese
speakers, 1.6 million French speakers, 1 million Vietnamese speakers and 894,000
Korean speakers (Languages Spoken in the U.S., 2005).
Because of this growing number, the debate over bilingual education in U.S.
public schools has provoked bitter political disputes throughout the nations history.
These debates became especially heated in the 1980s and 1990s as bilingual
education emerged as a target of anti-immigration groups. For example, in 1996
eight bills were placed before Congress that proclaimed English as the only official
language of the United States and outlawed bilingual education. Supporters of those
hills asked, Why should the 1 in 20 public school students in the nation who cant
speak English be taught in their own language today when the immigrant children
who entered school speaking only Italian or Yiddish or German a century ago
managed to get along just fine? (Celis, 1995). Others argued that bilingual
education did not work and even inhibited the learning of English. Opponents of
bilingual education have also vociferously argued that bilingual education impedes
assimilation into American society, keeps immigrants from learning English, and
represents a threat to the status of English and the ideals of Americanization
Still, bilingual instruction has spread throughout the past thirty years and has
helped thousands of Latino students. Many schools have been mandated by the
federal government to integrate this program into their various curriculums not only
to reach out to the Latino community but because failure to do so would violate the
students constitutional rights.
So how does bilingual education help the student, especially in regards to
standardized testing such as the CSAP? Various theories exist about how bilingual
education should work in the classroom. One of them proposed by A. Bruce Gaarder
in his book, Bilingual Schooling and the Survival of Spanish in the United States, is
that there are four issues that must be considered. First, children who enter school
with less competence in English than monolingual English-speaking children will
probably become retarded in their school work to the extent of their deficiency in
English, if English is the sole medium of instruction (Gaardner, 1977). Gaardner
argues that if the student is able to learn in their native tongue they will not only be
able to do better in their school work but get past the stigma of being retarded due
to their better understanding of the material.
Second, non-English-speaking children come from non-English-speaking
homes. The use of the childs mother tongue as an academic language is necessary if
there is to be a strong, mutually reinforcing relationship between the home and the
school. This is very helpful for those Spanish speaking students that only have
English speaking teachers guiding them. The use of the bilingual classroom bridges
that gap by allowing the ESL teacher to guide those students to a better understanding
of their English lessons (Gaarder, 1977).
Third, language is the most important exteriorization and manifestation of the
human personality (Gaarder, 1977). If the school rejects the mother tongue of an
entire group of children, it can be expected to negatively impact their concept of their
parents, of their homes, and of themselves. This is obvious in the way that schools
emphasize reading and writing as one of the top subjects on the CSAP. For many of
the Latino students, they struggle with this because English for many of them is still a
Finally, if the student has not achieved reasonable literacy in his or her mother
tongue (defined as the ability to read, write, and speak fluently) it will be virtually
useless for this person to succeed in any technical or professional work where
language matters. That is why it is necessary for a student to master vocabulary and
its concepts in at least one language otherwise they will struggle with language
concepts for the rest of their life (Gaardar, 1977).
Lambert and Peal (1962) further espoused the success of bilingual education
through their research on how learning in two different languages could actually
work. They examined the students growth by using a balanced form of
bilingualism where each student learned an equal amount of literacy in two different
languages. By examining two 10-year-olds in Montreal, they suggested that these
children were markedly superior to monolinguals on verbal and nonverbal tests of
intelligence and appear to have greater mental flexibility, a grasp of concept
formation, and a more diversified set of mental abilities (Lambert and Peal, 1962). In
their opinion there is no evidence that the supposed handicap of bilingualism is
caused by bilingualism, per se, and that it would be more fruitful to seek that cause
in the inadequacy of the measuring instrument and in other variables such as
socioeconomic status, attitude toward the two languages, educational policy and
practice regarding the teaching of both languages (Lambert and Peal, 1962).
This is further supported by a study done in 1966, in Chiapas, Mexico, by Dr.
N. Modiano for the New York University School of Education. The Modiano
research examined the hypothesis that children of linguistic minorities can learn to
read English with greater comprehension after they first learn to read in their non-
English mother tongue (Modiano, 1966). From Modianos research, it became
apparent that the use of bilingual education was beneficial for the students. Modiano
argued that the reading comprehension was very close between those students that
came from a bilingual school to those that were from a monolingual institution. The
childrens average score in state and federal schools was 41.59; in the bilingual
Institute schools it was 50.30 where the difference showed that the bilingual students
actually did better on these tests. Within each of the three schools examined, the
mean scores in Institute schools were higher than in federal and state schools. Thus,
not only did the teachers using the bilingual approach nominate more of their students
for testing but also their judgment was confirmed by the fact that their students scored
significantly higher on the group test of reading comprehension (Modiano, 1966).
Both Modiano and Gaarder concluded that bilingual education is beneficial
for bilingual students. They maintain that if the bilingual children were given all of
their schooling through both Spanish and English, there is a strong likelihood that not
only would their so-called handicap of bilingualism vanish but they would have a
decided advantage over their English-speaking schoolmates, at least in elementary
school (International Institute of Teachers College, 1926).
Bilingual Education at Everitt Middle School
Because of this push for bilingual education, the landscape of the educational
system has changed. Following the 1974 Bilingual Education Act, schools such as
Everitt included ESL courses to their curriculum (Bilingual Education, 2005). This
program is largely a continuation of ESL classes started in elementary school and will
continue until high school. For many of these students, the ESL classes have been a
major part of their academic life. So to see how bilingual education has impacted
many of these Latino students, it is important to take a more detailed look at how the
ESL program works at Everitt Middle School.
Everitt has only one ESL teacher who has been in charge of the program for
the past two years. Originally, this teacher qualified for teaching bilingual education,
not because of her teaching ability, but because she is one of the few teachers at the
school that speaks Spanish (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005). For the past
twenty years, Everitt did very little to help out the bilingual students who were
basically just given a tutor to help them understand their given lessons. But when the
current principal came to Everitt, she was discouraged to see that so many of these
students were being overlooked that she decided to make some major changes to
Everitts ESL policy. When she heard that ESL teacher could speak Spanish and was
licensed to teach, she immediately hired her to lead the ESL program (Interview with
Mrs. Kathy Norton, March 2005).
After agreeing to the job, the ESL teacher was very surprised to see that there
was nothing set up for these Spanish speaking students. She told me that there were
no lesson plans, textbooks or anything for me to use. I basically had to recreate the
ESL program at Everitt (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005).
I asked the ESL teacher about her goals for these students and what she hoped
to achieve with this revamped ESL program. She told me that her purpose was not
only to help these students achieve a better grade in their classes but to get a stronger
grasp of the English language (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005).
To accomplish this, the ESL teacher has set up her classroom to emphasize
language skills and how to use them in their writing. This is evidenced by the way
her walls are plastered with posters about pronunciation as well as a list of commonly
misspelled words. Encyclopedias and dictionaries are also readily available for the
students to use if they need any additional assistance or help. There are even several
computers where the students can work on vocabulary programs as well as practice
their typing. Any time a student wants extra assistance, they can always ask the ESL
teacher for extra assistance (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005). All of this is
helpful when the teacher goes over certain words, phrases or English concepts with
When the ESL teacher is not teaching these students about vocabulary skills,
she has her classroom become a study hall. To do this, the ESL teacher will sit down
with each student, help them translate the instructions and clarify their understanding
on what to do (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005).
This extra assistance not only applies to assignments but also to test taking.
For any examination, the ESL students have the option of coming down to the ESL
teachers classroom and taking the test with her. These students usually are not given
a set time limit so they are not stressed out on finishing within the class period. This
gives them time to ask for clarification and any type of extra assistance. Mrs. Smith
has mentioned that this can get really hectic especially when there are several
students in her classroom taking different tests (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March
In addition, since the goal is to have these students gain a better grasp of the
English language, they are limited on the amount of Spanish spoken in the classroom.
For some of the students, this is very difficult because they are accustomed to
speaking their native tongue at home. However Mrs. Smith wants these students to
eventually become self-sufficient in English; therefore she keeps reminding them that
must speak as much English as possible in the classroom.
Even though the ESL program is geared toward helping Spanish speaking
students, not every one of them needs this extra assistance. The ESL teacher at any
time can allow a student to be taken out of the program and placed solely on a consul
basis. These consul students do not attend the regular ESL classes but remain in the
standard courses such as Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Art and P.E. Like
the other ESL students, these pupils still have the option of going to the ESL teacher
and asking her for assistance in understanding any assignment or test. If these
students still feel like they are struggling with the English language in the mainstream
courses, they can always request to go back to the ESL classes for extra help. But in
many of these incidents it is up to the student to make the extra effort of telling the
ESL teacher and the counselor about these changes (Interview with Mrs. Smith,
What further complicates these ESL courses is that an ESL teacher is not
required to speak any secondary language. All that is required to teach an ESL class
is to have a teachers license and be proficient in English (CDE Guidelines, 2005).
Due to this, many middle schools have utilized tutors to work in their schools even
though they do not have a strong background in dealing with Latino students. This
procedure has caused controversy because some ESL students were not completely
prepared for the CSAP tests because they did not receive the necessary assistance.
Unfortunately these students are expected to do the CSAP preparations and various
class work in English and never in their home languages. This makes it hard for them
to understand what they really need to do on these assignments. Yet these students
are expected to make major gains on these standardized tests each year.
It was in this context that Mrs. Smith had to develop her ESL program. As
mentioned before, she had to struggle with creating lesson plans, getting material and
garnishing support from teachers. But this teacher had to also deal with the difficulty
in teaching the new influx of students that have just recently started to attend Everitt.
Over the past few years, there has been such a huge growth of students coming into
the classroom speaking languages besides Spanish. Some of these new students have
come into the classroom speaking everything from French, Japanese, to Arabic. Even
though the number of these students is small (less than one percent of the ESL
students), it still has caused additional problems because of the diversity of languages
(Interview with Mrs. Kathy Norton, March 2005).
Like many other schools, Everitt has a difficult time dealing with this new
influx. For example, over the past two years, the school has experienced its highest
growth of diversified ESL students, with two pupils enrolled that speak only Chinese,
three that speak only Russian and one that speaks only Arabic. Combined with the
Spanish speaking students, the ESL program has grown by leaps and bounds, but
unfortunately Mrs. Smith has a difficult time dealing with such a large varied group
(Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005).
Even though these problems exist, the ESL program at Everitt still tries hard
to prepare these students. The principal relayed to me that the ESL program has
worked in reaching out to the Spanish speakers at the school. Many of them now feel
better prepared for high school (Interview with Mrs. Kathy Norton, March 2005).
Bilingual Education and the CSAP
Besides looking at a brief history of bilingual education and how it is used at
Everitt, there needs to be a more focused analysis of how all of this information
impacts Latino student performance on the CSAP. When I talked to the ESL teacher
about the CSAP and her preparations for it, she relayed that there are no set CSAP
guidelines for ESL students (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005). So the only
thing she can do is prepare her students for these tests. For example, when it comes
close to CSAP time, she talks to the students teachers about what they need to focus
on. Once she knows what to review, she will go over each one of those concepts with
them in class.
Using this method, the ESL teacher essentially sets up her lesson plans to go
over some basic areas covered by the test. According to her, the most common
items that the students struggle with are subject-verb relationships, spelling, and basic
math functions (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005). So in order to tackle these
various items, the ESL teacher will spend at least twenty to thirty minutes going over
each of these topics. She usually does this by demonstrating on the board how the
CS AP questions are set up, what they are expected to do and how to find clues in
order to solve the problem. She will also write down some sample CS AP questions
and see if the students are able to solve them on their own. Afterwards, she will
discuss answers with the class and correct those responses so that they follow CSAP
guidelines (Interview with Mrs. Smith, March 2005).
But even with all of this work, there are still a lot of problems these bilingual
students will face when they take the tests. One of the biggest dilemmas is that they
can only take the test in English (A Guide for Parents, 2005). The CSAP is only
provided in one language from third grade on. For students in second grade and
lower, they have the option of taking the CSAP in Spanish if they wish but since there
is such a big push for immersion, many of the older students have no choice but to
take the English version of the CSAP. For the bilingual students at Everitt Middle
School this does create a huge problem, especially if they do not have strong English
skills. These students struggle with just understanding the complicated Language
Arts concepts, written instructions and rules so that it becomes a chore for them just
to finish the test. This lack of understanding is reflected on the CSAP scores.
According to the 2004 CSAP results, only one of the Everitt ESL students received a
proficient grade on the reading and writing parts of the test. The rest of these
bilingual students received unsatisfactory grades (Colorado Student Assessment
Program Scores, 2004).
A second problem is that these students cannot receive any assistance in
reading the questions once the exam has begun. According to the CSAP guidelines,
the ESL students have the option of taking the test with the ESL teacher if they so
wish but she is restricted on how much help she can give them. For example, she is
only allowed to read the instructions that are preprinted in the book. She can translate
these instructions into Spanish if a student wants and of course she can clarify any
questions they may have before the test begins, but once the test officially starts, these
students have to do everything on their own. Neither the ESL teacher, nor any other
teacher, can help these students in any way (Interview with Mrs. Smith, 12 March
A third problem is that these ESL scores are combined with other Latino
student scores and this skews the grades. The big reason why Everitts Latino CSAP
scores are so low is because the ESL students scores are combined with those of the
monolingual Latino students, who generally score higher on the test. When these
grades are released to the public, they are not separated to show that there are two
different categories but instead are lumped together. Thus the test results suggest that
all Latino students at Everitt are struggling on the CSAP, when in fact this may not be
the case (Colorado Student Assessment Program Scores, 2004).
In order to see why this was happening, I examined Everitts CSAP data for
the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 school years. Each student in the ESL program either
scored in the unsatisfactory or partially proficient range and none of them scored in
the proficient or the advanced category in any subject. This is vastly different
compared to the non-ESL Latino students where over sixty percent of them scored in
the proficient range and over ten percent of them scored in the advanced range
(Colorado Student Assessment Program Scores, 2004). It is troubling to see that
many of these Latino students are unfairly criticized for having such low grades when
they actually are doing what is expected of them. But because both the ESL and non-
ESL scores are combined, the CSAP grades for all Latino are much lower than they
Through the information presented, it is apparent to see that bilingual
education does make a difference in the way the CSAP grades are deciphered.
Because the tests are only given in English past the second grade and the teachers are
not allowed to help out these ESL students, the CSAP appears set for failure among
these bilingual students. It would be difficult for any student that is not fluent in
English to actually succeed on these tests unless they have some support.
Unfortunately there are no set solutions that could solve these problems. Even though
giving the test in Spanish probably would raise some CSAP scores, it still wont
accurately reveal any gains made by these bilingual students. There has to be another
solution as to why there are so many low scores at Everitt and the next chapter will
look at a possible solution being implemented in Jefferson County to solve this
GESA TRAINING AND LATINO STUDENTS
Throughout this paper there has been an examination about how Latino
students performance on the CSAP has been impacted by ESL classes. Obviously
these low test scores have been a major concern for schools across Colorado which
raises the question about what is needed to raise the scores. This next section will
examine changes being made in Jefferson County in order to raise these scores. One
solution proposed was a program called the Generating Expectations for Student
Achievement (GESA) program that Everitt Middle School pioneered for the 2004-
2005 school year. The goal of this program is to reach out to students and to show
that teaching multicultural ideas could be beneficial for all. Since the hypothesis of
this paper focuses on bilingual and bicultural ideas, this GESA program should be
what is needed to help Latino students and possibly ESL students improve their
Created in the year 2004, the GESA program is a system not only focused on
raising CSAP scores but designed to make minority students more receptive to
conflicting school environments by dealing with the problems of stereotyping, name
calling and labeling based on a persons gender or race (Grayson, 1998). GESA
furthers this belief by maintaining that these problems not only stem from students
but from teachers as well. GESA stresses that many teachers have inadvertently
engaged in these acts by acting a certain way or saying certain things toward minority
students which perpetuates many common stereotypes. According to GESA, these
minority students may feel like they are not smart enough or creative enough to
remain in the class and thus fail. This lack of success is then reflected when these
students partake in any type of standardized tests.
Because of this cycle of testing and failure, many Latino students may be
feeling insignificant in the classroom which could be a reason why many of them
struggle. According to the GESA training, many Latino students are experiencing
these subtle types of racism and do not know how to counteract it and thus score low
overall on reading, mathematics and science (Grayson, 1998).
If subtle forms of racism could be one of the causes for low test scores by
Latino students, what remedies are being offered by the GESA program? The
program is set up to discuss improvement in five distinct areas: perceptions and
instructional contact, group and organization, classroom management, enhancing self-
esteem, and higher level questioning. But to help Everitts Latino population to
improve on their CSAP scores, the focus will be on three distinct areas: perceptions
and instructional contact, self-esteem, and higher level questioning. Looking at these
areas will provide a more thorough examination of the concepts presented by GESA
and what teachers can do to help their students better improve for the CSAP. I will
also provide a critique of-the limitations of this program.
Perceptions and Instructional Contact
One of the biggest concerns regarding the GESA training, especially with
regards to minorities at Everitt, is the way students perceive themselves. One of
GESAs philosophies is that students shape their expectations and their actions in
accordance with the perceptions they receive (Grayson, 1998). That is why a person
in a position of influence can have such a huge impact on any students achievement,
success, and productivity.
According to GESA, one of the strongest influences on a child is the teacher
who impacts students in ways that many other adults cannot. They are with the child
for several hours a day and guide their educational process. However, even though
much of their influence is strong and positive, there are also some negative outcomes
which may hurt a Latino students personal perspective.
According to GESA, one of the biggest problems is the lack of attention being
placed on Latino students. These students have the perception that they are not fully
participating in the classroom environment and are ignored by their teachers. For
example, a GESA study showed that Latino males interacted with their teachers 27%
less than Caucasian males (Grayson, 1998). Could the reason for this reduced
interaction be blamed on the student not having any sense of connection with their
teacher? That could be the possible answer, but GESA stressed that this problem
actually goes much deeper.
For GESA, the gap between teacher and student is further enlarged when the
teacher speaks a different language than the student (Grayson, 1998). This concern is
one that the ESL teacher has with her bilingual students. When I asked her how the
Spanish speaking kids were doing with English immersion classes, she told me they
are having a very difficult time in their classes. Most of the time, the teacher doesnt
understand what the student is saying and basically ignores them (Interview with
Mrs. Smith, 12 March 2005).
This problem was very obvious when I observed these ESL students in the
classroom. Many felt very comfortable speaking Spanish and/or English in the ESL
classroom because the other students are bilingual but this changed once they entered
into a mainstream classroom. These ESL students became quiet, didnt speak much
and actually seem intimidated by this English-only environment. When I interviewed
one student about this, he told me the difference in language has caused a lot of
problems in the classroom. I am afraid to ask any questions for fear that I may look
dumb (Interview with Becky Martinez, March 2005).
But this bias is not only limited to language, GESA points out that grades
play a significance part because instructors tend to focus primarily on those students
that do well in class. Since a students knowledge is reflected on their CSAP scores,
many Latinos were commonly being overlooked by teachers because they didnt
score as high as other students (Grayson, 1998). This theory is further supported by a
study that revealed that many teachers focused on those students that not only have
higher grades but also fit the status quo (Grayson, 1998). Thus, if the classroom is
primarily comprised of white Anglo-Saxon students who speak English and get good
grades, they are the ones that the teacher will focus the most upon.
In order to change these situations, the GESA program stressed that several
items needed to be done. First, there had to be more of an effort in listening and
responding to minority students. Most teachers do not consciously treat students
unfairly but yet differential treatment often happens. In subtle but important ways,
teachers communicate that some students are more valued than others and students
are less apt to learn from someone who doesnt particularly like them or doesnt
expect them to learn. For example, Latino students who are ignored or asked only
easy questions by teachers dont have a chance to develop their intellectual skills or to
express their true opinions. These neglected students voices and contributions
remain silenced and restricted (Grayson, 1998).
The second recommended change is for students to get more
acknowledgement and feedback. Teachers know the importance of this but spend
surprisingly little time analyzing the impact of the feedback given to them especially
from minority students (Grayson, 1998). For example, one Latino student told me I
feel ignored by my teacher. I would ask a question and all I get is an okay or uh-
huh as a response (Interview with Carla Marquez, March 2005). According to
GESA, if the teacher would be more willing to reach out to these Latino and minority
students, not only will more classroom participation happen but the students will be
more receptive to assessments such as the CSAP (Grayson, 1998).
Through these changes, the GESA program promoted the idea that
instructional contact and feedback was crucial for every student in Middle School.
For Latino students, this involvement can make them much more receptive and
involved in the school environment and if done properly will be reflected on how they
do on the CSAP.
Besides looking at perceptions, the GESA program also focused on self-
esteem and self-concept that is placed upon the students. Self-concept, the way
children perceive themselves, is based on their interaction with their environment and
what they learn from significant others in their lives (parents, peers, teachers). This is
done by examining what people think about them and whether it positively or
negatively reinforces their attitudes (Grayson, 1998).
This importance of self worth is very evident at Everitt Middle School. Every
student goes through different phases where they question who they are.
Undoubtedly, self-esteem plays a major role in this struggle for identity and for
Latino students it is further stressed by their culture. Most of them view culture as
not having any disadvantageous effects but instead see its incorporation in the
classroom as having a positive effect on a childs self image (Garcia, 2001).
Nevertheless, the non-ESL Latino students still may feel like they are below
the intellectual level of their Caucasian peers. When the CSAP scores were first
released to the public, many Latino students expressed that these results hurt their
self-esteem because it did not reflect any positive growth being made. When I
interviewed two students about this, they relayed that these scores actually dont
show how well I do in class (Interview with Becky Martinez and Carla Marquez,
Even though these students may feel like they are being put down by the
CSAP scores, the situation is much worse for those in the ESL program. In one
interview, a student told me that her low scores have caused her problems in the
classroom. She expressed that I am always put down for being in a special class
and others view me as being on the same level as special-ed kids (Interview with
Becky Martinez, March 2005). Could this be a major reason why so many of these
students, whether they are in the ESL program of not, do such a poor job on the
CSAP? Could self-worth be part of the problem as to why they struggle so much
with these standardized tests?
Even though there is no set data regarding self-worth and CSAP performance,
the GESA program was structured to answer these problems by focusing on changes
that teachers could make in developing Latino students self-worth and to make them
feel more wanted in the classroom environment. Their primary theory is that if the
Latino student is able to feel more accepted in the classroom, they will do better on
tests including the CSAP. To achieve this, they created their solution in two parts.
First, teachers were asked to make sure that their students are not stereotyped
into certain roles and that they were displayed in more positive self-esteem situations
(Grayson, 1998). This could be done by celebrating certain holidays or periods of
time that focus on diversity in the school. Many of the Latino students could set up
plays, events, guest speakers or activities that can show off their cultural pride. One
suggestion is that there could be a celebration for Cinco de Mayo where everyone in
school could celebrate not only Mexican heritage but diversity as a whole. This idea
could be extended to other minority groups as well by focusing more on Black
History month, womens studies, and Native American holidays.
Second, according to GESA, teachers need to emphasize that students should
be true to themselves. Bias and its concomitant inequities occur most often in
classrooms where roles are emphasized over ones own personality. Teachers,
impersonally playing their teacher roles, usually assign males and females to
stereotypical models. When this happens, educators lose touch with the idea that they
are unique, different, valued human beings with unlimited potential for growth
For many Latino students, these kinds of solutions could result in a huge self-
esteem boost, increasing not only CSAP scores but their overall GPA (Grade Point
Average) as well. Unfortunately many stereotypical attitudes still exist espousing that
Latino students dont need school to survive. Because of this many Latino males feel
that school may not be a necessity and even demonstrate this by performing poorly on
their tests. GESA stresses that if these students could get past this stigma, many of
these negative ideas would eventually disappear in the classroom (Grayson, 1998).
One student told me that she wants to do better in the classroom but unfortunately
peers and society restrict her (Interview with Becky Martinez, March 2005). If these
students could be themselves and get rid of these stereotype shackles then they could
better strive to realize their full potential and eventually improve their learning skills
which would then be reflected on the CSAP.
But even though these ideas are helpful, there are still some flaws with it. The
biggest problem is that it almost appears to sugar-coat the problems that exist among
Latino students in the classroom. The use of self-esteem and higher level questioning
may make a student feel like they can handle the CSAP but unfortunately it doesnt
go far enough. When I interviewed a teacher about her feeling about these
suggestions, she told me that GESAs ideas of self-esteem are a good idea but how
does this really help out the minority students in the school? (Interview with Mrs.
Jones, March 2005). She is not the only one expressing this sentiment. Another
teacher told me that GESA showed us nothing more than how to have better
classroom management but not how to better teach (Interview with Mrs. Scott,
March 2005). Unfortunately, this use of self-esteem shows that Jefferson County is
attempting to make changes in regards to teaching minority students but does it go far
enough? As stated in the hypothesis, it would be more useful if GESA looked at both
the use of bilingual and bicultural ideas in the classroom and school. Even though
GESA referred to the use of cultural holidays and celebrations, these seem more like
token ideas than serious suggestions to be implemented. For example, the schools are
encouraged to have cultural celebrations but there is no discussion about how to set
these up, what is expected of them, and why it needs to be done (Grayson, 1998).
Nevertheless, these ideas of self-esteem do have some merit. By using these
different techniques in the classroom, GESA suggests that Latino students would be
more receptive to changes and ideas that are being presented by the teacher. If they
feel as though they are more involved in the school process, it would be easier for
them to learn basic concepts, ideas and thoughts that they could use on the CSAP.
But when self-esteem is lacking, many of these students do not reach their full
potential but instead close themselves off from change and thus fail on standardized
tests. Without the feeling of being valued in the classroom, these ESL Latino
students will continue to feel unwanted and thus never reach their full potential.
Higher Level Questioning
Besides using perceptions and items of self-esteem, a teacher can really make
a difference on a Latino students life by asking them higher level questions. These
inquiries go beyond the realm of basic knowledge and ask the student to analyze and
critique the world around them. For example, instead of asking a student who is the
President of the United States, which would be a standard knowledge question, the
student would be asked their opinions and ideas about the President and defend their
answers. The GESA program emphasizes that asking these types of questions not
only will raise a students perception about what is taught in the classroom but would
also raise their self-esteem. Unfortunately the GESA study discovered that a majority
of the students that were receiving these types of questions were primarily Caucasian
children while the limited English students were usually relegated with basic
questions (Grayson, 1998). GESAs assumption then is that the lack of higher level
questions minority students receive may be another reason why there are such low
classroom and CSAP scores.
What needs to be understood is that the use of higher level questions actually
places worth and value on the students performance. By evaluating how a student
answers these questions, it is giving it a value as to how important they are in the
classroom. This sense of value is critical, especially in its use with minority students,
because it communicates messages to them about their worth of academics.
According to GESA, once students realize that they can do well on their lessons and
that they are succeeding in school, then they will improve on any standardized test
including the CSAP (Grayson, 1998).
Because Latino students have such a stigma of scoring low on standardized
tests, many of them have felt like that no matter what they do, success will always be
out of their grasp. One student told me that she felt like the school and the CSAP still
do not reach out to her. Most of the questions that the teachers ask me in class are
below CSAP level and this makes me feel like the teachers are not willing to
challenge me (Interview with Carla Marquez, March 2005).
Interestingly, those Latino students that did well on the CSAP still did not feel
the reinforcement that they hoped for. One student told me that even though I
scored in the Proficient and Advanced range, teachers were still encouraging me to do
better (Interview with Becky Martinez, March 2005). So instead of congratulating
these students, the teachers instead kept pushing them to improve their CSAP scores.
These examples are what GESA wishes to change. The focus should not only
be on those students struggling on the CSAP but should be on how to better prepare
these students to take these tests. For the GESA program, one of the best ways to do
this is in the use of higher level questioning in the classroom.
One of the biggest problems that GESA discovered was that many students
were not being asked enough higher-level questions. Since higher level questions are
those inquiries that go beyond just knowledge and comprehension, the teacher must
ask questions that delve into the area of evaluating and analyzing information.
Unfortunately these types of questions are not being provided to each student.
According to GESA, most Latino students were being limited in this learning
capability and that Latino male students were usually given more feedback directly
related to the task, content or thought process involved. More often than not, the
Latina females were only given feedback related to the appearance of their work and
not about content. Unfortunately these female students were praised more for their
handwriting than what they really knew (Grayson, 1998).
Also, GESA noticed a pattern where Latino students were told to read back
through an assignment or work through a problem themselves and usually were not
given the opportunity to show what they have really learned. Frequently, with very
good intentions, instructors feed into this phenomenon called learned helplessness
through subtle interactions such as finishing sentences or taking pencils out of the
persons hand and doing the task for them (Grayson, 1998).
Unfortunately this use of learned helplessness has influenced student
perceptions about what was expected of them. If the student was to feel like they
have the ability to do an assignment, they need the encouragement by their teachers.
The educators have a charge and a responsibility to present information as useful to
all students, to build confidence where there may not be any, and to use a
combination of positive, supportive, instructional techniques designed to meet the
needs of a variety of learning styles (Grayson, 1998).
This supportive teaching is a necessity for all students especially for ESL
students. Many of them do not receive the nurturing support they need to do their
best on the CSAP. They are encouraged to try their best but their ability is not always
there. According to GESA, a desire and willingness to challenge more of these
students to think beyond the concrete realm and move into the abstract is a necessity
in the classroom. In order to do this, GESA offers two suggestions.
First, ESL students must be asked higher level questioning in order to prepare
for the CSAP. This is a big concern, especially in relation to the ESL program at
Everitt. Because of the way the classroom is designed, many of these students are not
challenged to think in a higher level capacity. These classrooms are based on the
students learning concrete items with concrete answers because the ESL teacher
follows the philosophy that these students must concentrate on first learning basic
skills. None of the lessons utilized delves into the higher level realm because these
students first need to fill in the gaps of information that they are lacking (Interview
with Mrs. Jones, March 2005).
The problem then arises when these same students try to answer veiy abstract,
higher level questions on the CSAP. Many of these ESL students confessed that they
were confused with the wording of the questions and had difficulty coming up with
concise answers for many of the problems. Since the ESL teacher is not allowed to
translate any of these CSAP questions into Spanish, these bilingual students are
basically are expected to do everything on their own.
Second, there needs to be a bigger push for Latinos to receive higher level
questioning in the classroom. GESA suggests that when a teacher is working with
students from diverse cultural backgrounds, varying the types of questions
communicates higher expectations from the teacher. The teacher needs to concentrate
on asking open-ended thought provoking questions and avoid those that usually only
require a yes or no answer (Denbo, 1986). If the teacher can be able to further
push their students to respond to these kinds of ideas then they will be more receptive
to better ideas and thoughts being presented in the classroom (Wilen, 1986). The
student who is called upon to answer a question or perform in some other way besides
rote memorization is in a more compelling learning situation than a student who is
merely listening to the exchange (Grayson, 1998). These students that follow in this
pattern will be able to excel further than previously thought.
What makes higher level questioning more compelling is that it should be
used more in classes like ESL and with all minorities. Repeated GESA reports and
observations indicated that these bilingual students respond more to questions
eliciting opinion, example, or process (Grayson, 1998). If the teachers are willing to
work with these Latino students and to familiarize them with higher level
questioning, then they should be able to be more successful on the CSAP or any other
type of standardized tests.
GESA Training Results
The GESA training was set up to reach out to the needs of students that have
been overlooked by teachers. Through a variety of teaching strategies, this programs
goal was to make minority students feel more involved in the school process and
could be carried even further by showing how it could also impact the way minorities,
including those in ESL, do on the CSAP. According to GESA, there are three main
things that need to be done by teachers if there is to be any positive changes.
First, perceptions and instructional content by a teacher needs to be changed.
According to GESA, too many teachers inadvertently damage a Latino students
perception of themselves by relaying the wrong message that they are not qualified to
do well on standardized testing. This could happen because a teacher focuses too
much on a students race, accent, or even being part of the ESL program. GESA
recommends that teachers need to pay more positive attention to these minority
students and encourage them to raise their test scores.
Second, self-esteem is necessary for ESL students. Many of these students
hear comments and phrases given to them from teachers and peers that hurt their self-
esteem. GESA recommends that teachers break this cycle and listen more to what the
students are saying. This includes hearing input from them about what needs to be
done and to increase the cultural influence around the school.
Finally, higher level questions can make a classroom more prepared for the
CSAP. If the teacher utilizes higher level questions, the students will better
understand the purpose of the CSAP, its worth and its value to their educational life.
Through these suggestions, GESA believes that minority students scores can
increase. All that it will take is an effort by teachers to reach out to all of their
students and to make them become very receptive to the school environment. Once
this is accomplished, CSAP and other assessment test scores should increase and
students will be attuned with school philosophy.
SUMMARY AND SUGGESTIONS
Throughout this study, there has been a look as to why Latino students have
been struggling on the CSAP. Without a doubt, these low grades are a huge concern
for many Colorado schools due to the fear that if their grades do not improve, many
of these schools will experience the same fate as Cole Middle School.
What makes matters worse is that the Cole situation is not the only one that
exists. There is also a concern that North High School, located near downtown
Denver, will be next in line to be converted because of low CSAP scores. The
schools theory as to why they have so many low scores is that many of the incoming
Latino students are not prepared once they walk into the high school hallways
(Griego, 2005). According to a district analysis, only 18 percent of the 36 freshman
at North who came from a district middle school and took the eighth-grade CSAP
could meet the states eighth grade reading standards. What is also surprising is that
only 15 percent of these students could meet the writing standards and just 6 percent
met the math standards (2003 CSAP by Ethnicity, 2004).
In addition, two-thirds of these freshmen had been enrolled in Denver Public
Schools since elementary school and many had never met state standards
for their grade level. This picture is made even clearer when the sample is enlarged
to include freshmen now repeating the ninth grade, and when the overall reading,
writing and math scores are broken down into their individual standards, such as the
use of grammar, punctuation and the ability to read and understand a variety of
materials (Griego, 2005).
This analysis says a lot of things but none of it deals with the intelligence of
Norths students. It would be a mistake to reduce their talent, ability and potential to
a single test score. Its especially risky to do so with regard to the CSAP, a test many
students think is a waste of time. What is clear, however, is that many of these
students didnt get the preparation and support they needed and deserved.
What is surprising is that these problems at North High school could occur at
any school anywhere across the state. Like North, most schools are worried about the
way their students CSAP scores will impact them which has raised concern about
whether or not they are truly prepared. Even though Norths feeder middle schools
may be trying their best with new programs and ideas, none of them are guaranteed to
While Everitts student population is not exactly the same, there are still many
lessons that could be learned from this example. The struggles that Latino students
experience in Denver Public Schools high school are very similar to those at Wheat
Ridge High School where Latino students face the same dilemmas.
The question then raised is why are these Latino students struggling and what
can be done to remedy this. This question was addressed in this paper through three
First, there was a look at various responses to CSAP. This was done by
looking at how Latinos have done on the CSAP and their views about it. This was
substantiated with a look at the historical results that Latinos have experienced
throughout American history. Finally, there was a look at how Everitts students
have done on the tests and their views about it. There was a special emphasis placed
on those students that were part of the ESL program and how they have historically
struggled on these tests.
The second part had to do with bilingual education. There was a look at how
bilingual education was first established in the United States and through various
court cases became mandated for all schools to have. This was further enhanced
through a study as to what makes up a good bilingual education and what is necessary
for any child to succeed in it.
The focus then shifted toward what has been happening at Everitt Middle
Schools bilingual program, how it was originally designed and how it now operates.
This dealt with the process that the bilingual teacher is using on her students and the
changes implemented over the past two years. Some of the strategies include using
computer programs and remedial lesson plans to allow her students to get a better
grasp of the English language.
Each of these changes and lessons aie done for the express purpose of
preparing these students for the CS AP. This starts with the bilingual teacher talking
to the mainstream teachers about what the ESL students need to know and going over
these basic concepts to help them better understand what to do on the tests. On the
day of the CSAP these bilingual students will take the test with the ESL teacher but
she is only allowed to read the overall instructions in Spanish. It is also mentioned
that none of these students are allowed to get any extra help on these tests and are
expected to do everything on their own.
The third part of this paper focused on the changes Jefferson County made to
increase Latinos CSAP scores through a program that Everitt pioneered during the
2004-2005 school year called GESA, which looked at the different ways that students
are perceived by their teachers.
One area that GESA examined was the importance of Latino perceptions.
According to GESA, many minority students feel inadequate and thus believe that
they are consistently looked down by their teachers. GESA recommends that this
could be solved by having the teachers become more receptive to these students
feelings and actually reach out them.
A second area is in the category of self-esteem. GESA stresses that, like all
other students, Latino students need to have their self-esteem raised. According to
their research, many students perform poorly on tests including the CSAP just
because they are not expected to pass them. GESA looks to remedy this problem by
having teachers avoid stereotyping their students through the use of diversity at the
school. According to GESA, if the Latino students feel more accepted in school, then
they will be more willing to be involved in the overall learning scheme and thus do
better on their tests.
A final recommendation by GESA is the use of higher level questioning in the
classroom. GESA noticed that too many Latino students were not being challenged
enough. This is readily apparent in the ESL classrooms where many of the students
learn through simple remedial lessons with few higher level questions being used.
Unfortunately these same students would then struggle on the CSAP because the
questions on these tests are at a higher level than what they faced in their ESL classes.
GESAs solution is that higher-level questioning would help these students better
prepare themselves for these challenges by having all classes use cognitive inquires to
better challenge them.
Through an examination of these problems and solutions, the situation
regarding Latino students became much more apparent. The reasons for these low
CSAP scores have been discussed and analyzed but nothing has been mentioned as to
how these scores can be raised. Here are actually a few solutions that can be done in
any school to help terminate this problem.
One solution would be more teacher training and work done in reaching out to
minority students. When the GESA training was first proposed to Everitts principal,
she was excited but hesitant about its usefulness in the classroom (Interview Mrs.
Kathy Norton, March 2005). Only through a detailed presentation did she see how
this program could be useful in reaching out to minority. The GESA program was
designed not only to reach out to minority students but to all students so they could
become more interested in school and its related activities. What is necessary is for
more training to be geared toward reaching these minority students. There should be
more of an emphasis by the county to prepare teachers on how to deal with bilingual
students. Anything that can heighten the awareness of minorities will help foster the
multicultural unity that should be present in the school.
A second solution would be for teachers to know their clientele. For
example, in todays Denver high schools, 71 percent of the African-American and
Latino students come from impoverished families and many of them have after school
jobs (Sherry, 2005). This is something that many new and current teachers probably
did not know about their students. This is important because many of these outside
influences really do impact students and cause a distraction from their school work.
So if schools are really interested in helping these minority students, they must be
willing to get to know their students background and try to work in helping them
overcome some of their adversities.
A third solution would be the creation of more activities to involve Latino
students in middle school. As mentioned earlier, more activities will encourage
students to become more proud of their heritage and culture. Unfortunately Everitt
Middle School does not have anything like that. There are no celebrations for Cinco
de Mayo or any activities that focus on any major Latino figures. The reason could
be that some teachers do not actually think it will make a difference in the students
lives. That was the situation in Oak Grove Middle School in California where there
was concern that many of the Latino students were feeling neglected. The music
program changed and allowed mariachi bands to be part of the curriculum. The
music director Emile Patton believed that this type of music was a way to explore
cultural traditions while cross pollinating instrumental and vocal musical programs.
The program so far has drawn Spanish, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Southeast Asian,
Mexican, Caucasian and African American students to get involved in this new type
of learning. What is great about this is it acknowledges and celebrates the Latino
diversity that exists on the campus (Burrell, 2005).
What happened at Oak Grove could easily happen at Everitt Middle School or
any school in Colorado. There could be programs set up to reach out to the Latino
students and to install cultural pride in the school. For example, there could be a
Cinco de Mayo program done every year that the Latino students themselves set up.
They could have Mexican food, a mariachi band and several activities that push
Latino pride. This would be a huge boost not only for the students but for the Latino
community as a whole. Imagine what the Latino students parents and local
merchants would do when they hear that a Cinco de Mayo program was happening at
Everitt. Many of them would be happy to help set up all of these activities, sell
products and being involved, mainly because this celebration will help promote
cultural diversity in the area.
What is great about these types of program is that it could start a trend that
would impact other groups and races. The African American students could set up
for Martin Luther King Jr. day, girls could set up activities that focus on womens
history month, and Native Americans students could celebrate their holidays. All of
these celebrations could create a sense of multiculturalism which is lacking today at
Everitt. This influx of different groups will not only make minority students feel
more accepted in the school but will could also reduce the amount of racism that
exists (McLemore, 2001).
A fourth solution is to allow Latino students to take the CSAP in Spanish.
One of the reasons why the CSAP is not given in Spanish is because of their
philosophy that there needs to be a full immersion for Spanish speaking students into
an English culture. This idea does have some credibility but not in regards to the
CSAP. The way that the CSAP is designed, these bilingual students dont get the full
opportunity to use what they learned in their bilingual classes. Many of the Spanish
speaking students struggle on these tests because they are too difficult and
complicated for them to understand. Several of the words used on the CSAP are very
hard for even English speaking students to know and definitely become a stumbling
block for these bilingual students when attempting to accurately answer the questions.
Give the students the test in Spanish and see what the results would be. If
these ESL Latino students truly do not know the material, then changing the language
of the tests will not make a difference. But what would happen if these Latino
students actually improve on the tests? Wouldnt that prove that many of them really
do have the capability to do well on the CS AP and show that the reason why there
have been so many low scores has been because of the language on these tests? If the
grades actually do improve, that means these Latino students are not in the lower
intellectual realms as previously perceived.
If these suggestions are used, then some major changes could be utilized to
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