From the Journal: ECA testing to happen at SHS and place students (extended version)

Fibi Kim, Reporter

April and May are here, and so are End of Course Assessments (ECA). This year’s ECA will have two types of tests, which are English and Math. However, a pilot test will be added to English for sophomores.

Pilot tests are the only tests that that only measure students knowledge, but it’s not required to pass. The purpose of taking the ECA is to assess each student’s level of knowledge that they learned during the school year. This year’s ECA testing will begin on April 27 and end May 7, but these dates are for EL students only. Extending time usually isn’t enough to pass the test for many EL students due to their English language barrier.

There are a lot of seniors who weren’t able to pass the ECA in the past years, including EL students. This may lead to concerns of if they will still be able to graduate and get a diploma.

Seniors who can’t pass the ECA will be asked to take a test called the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a test based on students’ English and math levels. Educators can make proper decisions to promote students’ academic growth using NWEA tests to see the result, according to

According to guidance director Mrs. Julie Fierce, NWEA is for senior EL students who didn’t pass the ECA, and they were asked to take this test before they take ECA again.

Fierce says there is a waiver for people who can’t pass the test. However, they need to meet the qualifications, which is whether or not the student really wants success in his or her education by getting good grades and attending school regularly. On top of that, their NWEA score is important. Counselors try their best to help each student taking NWEA in order to pass.

ECA is not fair for many students, especially for students who are immigrants from other countries because it tests for the reading level and understanding of English, Fierce says. Even though the school is diverse with different cultures, the state doesn’t allow them to get around the test. So, that’s why the school works so hard and does its best to understand them. If students don’t pass the ECA and don’t get the waiver,  they can still graduate, but they won’t be able to get their diplomas until they pass the ECA.

“You don’t give up, anything is possible, it’s going to happen. We will help them answer questions they need. There are a lot of things we can do to help them and make it possible,” Fierce said.

EL ECA booster help started on Monday, April 20 and ended yesterday at 5:15 p.m. There are two EL teachers and two English teachers to help students to be able to do better on the actual test. The students who attended this program were chosen by administration, and they are more in shape to pass ECA with little extra help, according to EL teacher Mr. Robert Hoffman-Longtin.

“Do your best, and use the time wisely,” Hoffman-Longtin said. “We give you extra time so that you can reread and make sure you understand.”

Senior Dawt Tha Par Thangngat has been living in the U.S. for five years and started American school at the end of eighth grade. Speaking English is really hard for her since she isn’t a native speaker. Thangngat says that the ECA test is the most difficult test that she ever took. She says she realized that she has to pass ECA during her senior year in order to get a diploma. However, trying her best and practice doesn’t always help her much on the test.

Thangngat desperately wants to pass the ECA, so she goes to the library to borrow books that will help her for the test and attended an ECA summer program.

However, the results haven’t changed for her. The reason why she had so much trouble passing this test is because the vocabulary is difficult to understand, and there is not enough time to finish the test. She has to read the text over and over again to truly understand more of what it really means, Thangngat says.

“I try so hard to pass this test,” Thangngat said. “But, no matter how much I try, the results are always the same. I always ended up failing.”