Spanish immersion fifth-graders will take new test

Fifth-graders in the Fayette Public Schools' Spanish Immersion Program will take a proficiency test called the NOELLA this year, after a homemade test for fifth-graders last year was ruled invalid.

The NOELLA, a commercially produced test, is administered online and measures students' proficiency in speaking Spanish and understanding spoken Spanish, and skill in reading and writing Spanish. It will be given to fifth-graders next month, said Michele Reynolds, the school district's assessment coordinator.

The tests will be graded by an outside organization, she said.

Reynolds outlined plans for the new test Tuesday night at a meeting of the site-based council at Maxwell Elementary School, one of the schools in the Spanish Immersion Program.

Asked by parents what kind of scores fifth-graders should be expected to get on the NOELLA, Reynolds said there are no established scoring guidelines. She said, however, that Fayette Schools' in-house estimates are that fifth-graders who are on track in the Spanish program should score somewhere between "novice high" and "intermediate medium" on the new test.

Last year, the Fayette Schools gave fifth-graders a Spanish proficiency test that officials wrote in-house because no commercially produced test for fifth grade was available. Fifth-grade parents were upset when the school district later ruled that problems in the way the test was written and scored made it invalid and that no results could be released.

The testing snafu drew fire from some parents who contend that emphasis on the Spanish program at Maxwell has been sliding in recent years.