RETHINKING the "GAP" HIGH-STAKES TESTING and SPANISH-SPEAKING STUDENTS in COLORADO

  • Escamilla K
  • Chávez L
  • Vigil P
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Abstract

This article challenges the pervasive notion that linguistic and ethnic diversity are causes of the perceived gap in achievement in schools highly affected by Spanish-speaking students participating in programs of bilingual education. The study examines existing data from the state of Colorado with regard to student achievement and compares these data to teacher and policy maker perceptions about Latino Spanish-speaking students and bilingual education programs. Results indicate that teachers and policy makers largely adhere to the notion that there is a gap in achievement between Spanish-speaking students and other Colorado students and that language in particular is a problem. Student-achievement data from the Colorado Student Assessment Program, however, indicate that Spanish speakers in English-language acquisition/bilingual classrooms are among the highest performing students in their schools. Furthermore, findings from this study challenge teacher educators and teachers to be more critical in interpreting the results from high-stakes tests.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Achievement gap
  • High-stakes assessment
  • Latinos
  • Second-language learners
  • Spanish achievement

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Authors

  • Kathy Escamilla

  • Lorretta Chávez

  • Peter Vigil

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