Simplified: About 3 in 10 students in the Sioux Falls School District's English Learner (EL) program saw no growth overall in the spring's language proficiency assessments. Meanwhile, more than 200 students scored high enough to exit the EL program.

Why it matters

  • Sioux Falls has more than 2,600 students in its K-12 EL program, a number that's stayed relatively steady over the past several years.
  • Overall, most students showed some growth in language proficiency, per spring test results presented to the school board Monday. But just over 29 percent saw composite scores showing no growth from the previous year.
  • Looking closer at the results, the data showed 42 percent of students who took the assessment showed no growth in the area of speaking, an area Sara Klaahsen – coordinator of language immersion programs – said the district has been watching for several years.
"Students need more opportunities to be able to use that academic language in their speaking in class because that's not something you practice at home," Klaahsen said.

Tell me more about the assessment data

It's important to note that it's just one measure of a moment in time, Klaahsen said, and she's happy to see that more students are seeing growth than not.

The assessment data also show that dozens of students are exiting the EL program faster than they were projected to, something Board Member Cynthia Mickelson said she's glad to see.

Data also show that students at the elementary level exit the EL program at a much higher rate than middle- and high-school students.

  • This spring, 167 elementary students scored high enough to exit the program, compared to 26 and 27 middle- and high-schoolers, respectively.
  • This is largely because the assessment rigor increases in middle and high school, Klaahsen said.

What happens next?

The EL program is up for curriculum review this year – a multi-year process, spokesperson DeeAnn Konrad said.

Meanwhile, the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) will continue to be administered to EL students each year.