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Bryan students score well on Spanish TAKS

By HOLLY HUFFMAN

Eagle Staff Writer

The number in parentheses is the number of students tested. The next number is the percentage of students who met the standard.

Grade

Reading

Math

Writing

Science

Third

(125) 86

(120) 87

NA

NA

Fourth

(47) 77

(44) 75

(47) 94

NA

Fifth

(33) 85

(31) 68

NA

(46) 50

Grade

2004 Overall

2003 Overall

Third

(126) 90

(53) 60

Fourth

(52) 63

(49) 69

Fifth

(49) 51

(34) 29

SPANISH DISTRICT-TO-STATE COMPARISON

The first number is the percentage of students who met the standard in Bryan ISD. The second number is the percentage who met standards in the state.

Third – 90/52       Fourth – 63/65     Fifth – 51/35

Most students taking the Spanish-language TAKS test in Bryan outperformed their counterparts across the state and made more gains during the past year than their English-speaking classmates, according to test results.

The passing-rate gap between Spanish- and English-speaking students in Bryan appears to be closing, according to results released this week by district administrators. The percentage of English speakers who passed the test this year declined slightly, while the passing rate for Spanish speakers soared by as many as 30 percentage points for one grade level.

Ninety percent of Spanish-speaking third-graders in Bryan taking the Spanish version of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills met state standards, skyrocketing past the state’s 52 percent passing rate. Among Spanish-speaking fifth-graders, 51 percent of Bryan students passed, which is 16 percentage points higher than the state passing rate.

Fourth-grade Spanish-speaking students in Bryan had a 63 percent passing rate, which fell just under the 65 percent who passed statewide, according to the results.

“ The district as a whole is hiring highly qualified bilingual teachers. This is, to me, very important, because if you don’t have high-quality teachers in any area you’re not going to be successful,” said Linda Simpson-Jones, director of bilingual/ESL education. “That has helped our students raise to a higher level of expectations.”

Spanish TAKS tests are given to Spanish-speaking students in the third, fourth and fifth grades. The tests are not offered in College Station because the district doesn’t have a significant Spanish-speaking population at the elementary school level.

This spring, 86 percent of Bryan students passed the English version of the TAKS test. That is down nearly three points from last year, when 88.9 percent passed the English version of the test, according to results released by the district.

Scores for Bryan students taking the Spanish version, meanwhile, increased dramatically in two grade levels.

Last year, just 60 percent of Spanish-speaking third-graders passed the test, which is 30 percentage points below this year’s 90 percent average. And just 29 percent of Spanish-speaking fifth-graders passed the test last year, which is significantly lower than this year’s 51 percent passing rate.

Those advances were made despite the increasing difficulty of the test, Simpson-Jones said.

This year, students had to answer three more questions in order to meet state standards, said Phil Sulak, spokesman for Bryan schools. Last year, students were required to correctly answer at least 20 of 36 questions to meet the state standard. But this year, students had to answer 23 of 36 questions.

Spanish-speaking fourth-graders were the only students in the district to see a decrease, dropping from a 69 percent passing rate last year to 63 percent this year.

Simpson-Jones said she couldn’t speak to the decreased passing rate for students taking the English version of the test. But she attributed the Spanish-speakers’ successes to a commitment from principals to hire quality teachers and provide a supportive environment for teachers and students.

The district has established goals of providing excellent instruction for all students, and the bilingual program in Bryan is improving every year, she said.

“ In my opinion, we’ve established goals of providing excellent instruction,” she said. “I think the level of dedication these teachers and principals have ... shows.”

• Holly Huffman’s e-mail address is hhuffman@theeagle.com.

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