Douglas County Successfully Uses Data Analysis Training to Improve English Learner Performance

September 03, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. – During the past year, the Douglas County School District took a hard look at the English Learner (EL) data it gathered through its assessments. Douglas then took that data and held a district-wide training for all of its administrators on data analysis.

The end result was impressive gains in Nevada’s English Language Proficiency Assessment known as WIDA ACCESS 2.0, where overall, Douglas increased 9.3 percentage points this year.

“We trained our team on the Nevada School Performance Framework to ensure that everyone understands how the Star Ratings are determined,” said Teri White, Douglas County Superintendent. “In addition, we asked our site administrators to set their Nevada Educator Performance Framework goals and Student Learning Goals to be responsive with the information they have about their students. Many of our administrators focused on improving the performance of our EL students. These efforts were coupled with providing interventions at the elementary grades.”

“Great teachers and high-quality instruction helped to realize good gains for our EL students, but also, this was a good exercise for a good number of our students as we review our preliminary Star Rating data.”

Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction, applauded Douglas efforts, saying the preliminary work the district performed paid off.

“Everyone can learn from what Superintendent White did in Douglas and emulate their efforts,” Ebert said. “Not only did EL students benefit from their efforts to use data and align goals for educators and students, it also lifted up the entire district.”

The English Learners scoring among the highest two achievement levels on Nevada’s English Language Proficiency Assessment remained relatively consistent. WIDA ACCESS 2.0, the percent of English Learner students in 2018-19 who are proficient is 11.74 percent, compared to 11.80 percent in 2017-18. On a positive note, 815 more EL students this year scored among the two highest achievement levels than last year.

“This kind of data is invaluable as we look for opportunities to continue to improve outcomes for all of our English Learners,” Ebert said.

The overall average performance on the WIDA improved 0.81 points over last year with the greatest increase appearing in the 4th–5th grade cluster, which improved 4.2 points. Kindergarten rose 0.2 points, Grade 1 rose 0.2 points, Grades 2-3 rose 0.2 points, Grades 6-8 fell 0.9 points, and Grades 9-12 rose exactly a point. The following districts lead the state in improvement in those clusters from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018, expressed as a percentage point increase over the prior year:

  • Kindergarten – Carson +0.8
  • Grade 1 – Lander +14.3
  • Grade 2-3 – Elko +2.6
  • Grade 4-5 – Douglas +9.3
  • Grade 6-8 – Nye +2.6
  • Grade 9-12 – Humboldt +5.8 

Overall State performance on English Language proficiency remained consistent from 2017-18 to 2018-19. Elementary schools increased (+0.7) percentage points, middle schools increased (+0.7) percentage points, while high school EL proficiency decreased by (-1.7) percentage points.

While overall state proficiency rates remained stable from 2017-18 to 2018-19, the following school districts demonstrated significant increases in overall English Language proficiency expressed as a percentage point increase over the prior year:

  • Churchill +0.69
  • Clark +0.16
  • Douglas +9.93
  • Humboldt +2.94
  • Lyon +2.05
  • Mineral +1.03
  • Carson +2.04
  • White Pine +6.25
  • SPCSA +1.87 

The following districts demonstrated gains in students’ On-Track for English Language proficiency expressed as a percentage point increase over the prior year. On-Track is the measure of students who met their English Language growth targets:

  • Churchill +3.42
  • Douglas +4.64
  • Humboldt +0.99
  • Lyon +3.82
  • Mineral +3.82
  • White Pine +6.51
  • SPCSA +8.25 

The WIDA ACCESS 2.0 is the Nevada state assessment for second language EL that helps to determine their level of English Language Proficiency. The WIDA ACCESS is given during the winter to early spring each year and is used to monitor students’ progress in acquiring academic English. EL students reaching a specified composite score on the WIDA may exit from EL services at their school with a state goal to exit students from these services within six years.

The WIDA ACCESS 2.0 assesses reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension with content targeting the following five WIDA English Language Development Standards: Social and Instructional Language, Language of Language Arts, Language of Mathematics, Language of Science and Language of Social Studies.

In support of Nevada’s EL program goals and to comply with federal law, student progress on the WIDA is a measure in the Nevada School Performance Frameworks (NSPF). Student progress is measured as student adequate growth, or growth to target. Specifically, the measure consists of the percentage of students who are on track to meet the state’s exit requirements within five years.

The WIDA Consortium has 39 state members and provides an opportunity to compare results across districts and states. This language assessment, called the WIDA ACCESS, does not replace the Nevada English Language Arts tests.

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Greg Bortolin
Public Information Officer