Executive Director of Curriculum Carey Carter broke down the Mineral Wells ISD bilingual/ESL program evaluation, presenting information Monday night about testing, which was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All districts that are required to have a bilingual/ESL program are required to do an annual evaluation of that program,” Carter told MWISD trustees. “We are required to have a program because we have 20 or more [English learning] students within one grade level and so by law, we’re required to have a bilingual/ESL program up through sixth grade — the law states fifth grade unless sixth grade is housed at the same campus, which in Mineral Wells, sixth grade is housed as part of elementary.”

The evaluation was less detailed this year because of the impact the pandemic had with the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System and STAAR tests not being administered to all students.

“We did start the TELPAS testing before spring break and there were 35 fourth graders that took the online reading test and as a district, we did opt to go ahead and receive that data. It doesn’t impact us in any way, but as a district we did want that data. Six students in fourth grade scored beginning, 49 were intermediate, 31 scored advanced and 14 scored advanced high, so it kind of gives us an idea of where those kids are now that they’re in fifth grade,” Carter said. “We did have 32 fifth graders take a portion of the TELPAS test; however, only 11 were administered all four sections and received a composite rating. Forty-five percent of those 11 scored advanced high, 36% advanced, 18% intermediate and 73% of the 11 students that actually received a composite rating grew at least one full grade level last year. That’s what we want to see happening so that data, we’re pleased with it and we’re glad that we went ahead and got it back from the state. Twenty-two sixth graders were administered all three portions of TELPAS as well.”

Carter said the district normally exits students from the program based on their TELPAS scores.

“Junior high and high school hadn’t done any of it before we went on COVID. It’s not a big deal, we would have gotten it done when we got back. We were only able to exit 11 students, which if you compare that to last year is significantly lower,” Carter said. “We’ll do TELPAS this year and hopefully close those gaps and get some more kids exited from the program.”

Carter said 12 students took the ACT between July 2019 and June 2020, which she said was misleading because the test was not administered after March because of the virus. The average composite score was 17, the state average being 21 on the ACT.

For the SAT, Carter said 53 students were administered the test during the same timeframe and 17 students took advantage of MWISD’s SAT School Day Test.

“We give it during the school day to our students so kids who work jobs things like that on the weekends, they have the opportunity to do this while they’re at school so they don’t have to take off work. There’s just a lot of kids that that does impact,” Carter said. “Also the state has given school districts money that junior and seniors get to take for free either an SAT, an ACT or a GSI test and so we will hopefully a year from now see those numbers of students taking the SAT or ACT increase.”

Carter said AP testing was moved to online this year and the results weren’t what the district was aiming for.

“I didn’t really hear anything negative from Mineral Wells — nobody had a lot of issues — but I did hear across the country that there were lots of issues as far as submitting tests and things like that. Our people did a good job,” Carter said. “Unfortunately, our results were not anywhere near where we would like them to be. We only had one student that received a score of 4 on a test and so that’s the only score that student would be able to use for college credit. But they went out in March, did home learning and did a test online for the first time, so it was just kind of a difficult situation all-around for kids.”

Carter said they’re trying to keep MWISD bilingual/ESL students in the program longer to encourage them to be biliterate and read, write and speak Spanish.

“Later on it’s going to make them so marketable in the job force,” Carter said. “Plus, there’s a lot of research out there that says students that are bilingual are going to score higher on standardized tests such as SAT, ACT — there’s a lot of research that supports that. Being now that we’re staffed up through fifth grade with bilingual teachers, if we can keep them in the bilingual program we are because it’s good for kids.”

MWISD Superintendent John Kuhn said it’s also beneficial for the district.

“The state looks at how do your bilingual students perform on STAAR and so students that stay in the program beyond when they could exit immediately, their English has more time to develop and so they tend to do better on STAAR,” Kuhn said. “So if you remove those kids from that population, you’re moving some of your kids that are likely to pass STAAR, which hurts your passing percentage of those bilingual kids, so it’s better for kids.”

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