CTB/McGraw-Hill Case Study Documents California District's Success Using LAS Links English Language Proficiency Assessment

Sweetwater Union High School District Surpasses API Growth Targets and Achieves Double-Digit Gains

Mar 22, 2011, 09:38 ET from CTB/McGraw-Hill

MONTEREY, Calif., March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- CTB/McGraw-Hill today announced the release of a case study demonstrating impressive student performance improvements resulting from implementing the company's LAS Links® English language proficiency assessment in the Sweetwater Union High School District in California. With LAS Links, student performance improved across all language domains. In 2010, every school achieved at least double its Academic Performance Index (API) target for the English learner (EL) subgroup, surpassing state averages and the performance of comparable school districts in San Diego County. The complete case study can be viewed at CTB.com/CaseStudies/Sweetwater.

The Sweetwater Union High School District enrolls more than 42,000 students in 32 schools. Approximately half of Sweetwater's students speak a language other than English at home, and one-quarter are English learners. In 2009, the district set out to standardize its English learner practice and establish common placement and achievement expectations with high quality, reliable data.

"We wanted a test that would closely mirror the state assessment, in order to provide as accurate a measure of growth as possible to meet accountability targets," said Oscar Medina, director of the Sweetwater Union High School District's Office of Language Acquisition programs. "We also wanted quantifiable data that would reflect student performance on English Language Development standards throughout the year."

To address these needs, the Sweetwater Union High School District implemented LAS Links at the end of the 2008–2009 school year. LAS Links is a comprehensive, integrated system of assessment, instructional placement, instructional guidance, and support for all English language learners. In Sweetwater, LAS Links is used to accurately assess the language proficiency of all EL students enrolled in English Language Development (ELD) courses.

Significant gains achieved by the Sweetwater Union High School District in 2010 were attributed to three factors:

  • hard work on the part of students, teachers, and administrators;
  • districtwide adoption of LAS Links for ELD students; and
  • a Structured English Immersion program for long-term ELs.

"Our 2010 API scores are through the roof," said Medina. "At all of our schools, the English learner subgroup posted at least double their API target. Several schools posted four or five times their target, and some went even higher. Every school showed remarkable gains. We are the only district in San Diego County that can say that all of its schools improved their English learner API."

About LAS Links

LAS Links is designed to strengthen English language learning (ELL) programs with an integrated system of English language proficiency assessments and instructional tools. LAS Links addresses all language assessment needs — from gauging the abilities of new students and measuring their progress to lesson plans, instructional tools, and training materials. LAS Links can be used to quickly and accurately place students into the appropriate bilingual and ELL programs, and help monitor student progress. The LAS Links product family includes benchmark assessments, K-12 assessments, and placement tests. For more information, visit CTB.com/LASLinks.

About CTB/McGraw-Hill

CTB/McGraw-Hill has an 85-year record of innovation and excellence in assessment, and serves more than 18 million students in all 50 states and in 49 countries. One of the first American publishers to introduce objective, standardized achievement tests to schools, today CTB/McGraw-Hill is a leader in testing with recognized products for online interim and formative, adult, and language proficiency assessment. Dedicated to advancing the use of student performance data to inform instructional decision making, CTB/McGraw-Hill's innovation continues today with technologies that include Web-based assessment and reporting, student response device (clicker) software, and artificial intelligence for automated scoring of student essays. CTB/McGraw-Hill is part of McGraw-Hill Education, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP). McGraw-Hill Education is a leading global provider of instructional, assessment and reference solutions that empower professionals and students of all ages. For more information, visit CTB.com.

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