For those of you who haven’t already heard about it, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) last week unveiled a major internal study aimed at demonstrating the success of its huge bilingual education program. Since Los Angeles contains half of California’s bilingual students, the results were very significant.
Restricting their analysis to only those students who had entered school in kindergarten and remained until the fifth grade at the same elementary school, LAUSD administrators sought to demonstrate the effectiveness of consistent and continual participation in a bilingual program. And the numbers seemed to prove this: 5th graders who had started in the bilingual program actually had higher English-language test scores than students who had started in an all-English program. LAUSD bilingual administrators felt vindicated.
BUT reporters quickly noticed that the English-language scores of the bilingual students excluded those 5th graders who couldn’t be tested in English because they hadn’t learned any English. It turned out that nearly two-thirds of the students who’d entered a bilingual kindergarten program still hadn’t learned enough English by the 5th grade—after six straight years in the program—even to be tested in that language. Average in these “zero” test scores, and the “bilingual” results go through the floor.
The LAUSD study creates an open-and-shut case for LAUSD bilingual programs. And on June 2nd, the voters of California will shut them.
- Opinions Vary on Studies That Back Bilingual Classes
Los Angeles Times, Monday, March 2, 1998