One year after the landslide victory of Prop. 227 in California, the first new test scores have now just been released, those of Oceanside, and they are nothing short of remarkable.
The Oceanside school district had become notorious and controversial for its extremely strict adherence to the exact letter and spirit of Prop. 227 and its complete elimination of bilingual education programs for its 20,000 students. Pro-bilingual activists had publicly protested Oceanside policies, which were in strong contrast to the efforts of most of California’s other school districts to circumvent the law and preserve their bilingual programs as much as possible.
Nonetheless, Oceanside’s superintendent, himself of Mexican descent and ironically the founding president of the California Association of Bilingual Educators (CABE), had remained steadfast in following the exact terms of Prop. 227, which he had personally opposed.
He now stands completely vindicated. The percentile test scores of English Learners in Oceanside have DOUBLED or even TRIPLED across nearly all grade levels in all subject areas, even though the tests were taken after just six months of Prop. 227 English immersion programs. Average increases ranged from over 120% in mathematics to over 180% in reading. I am personally unaware of any other educational reforms which can boast of such swift and remarkable results.
Since few if any of California’s other school districts have complied so fully with the English immersion requirements of Prop. 227, we doubt that California’s aggregate immigrant test scores will show nearly such strong improvement. However, these extraordinary results from Oceanside leave us cautiously optimistic that the benefits of Prop. 227 will be apparent statewide, even during this first year of implementation. And it will be interesting to analyze the relationship between the degree of Prop. 227 compliance and the change in immigrant test scores across different school districts.
Aside from today’s San Diego Union-Tribune article on the Oceanside test scores, I am also including several previous articles, detailing the highly “controversial” pro-English immersion policies of Oceanside.
- State test scores jump in Oceanside
San Diego Union-Tribune, Wednesday, June 16, 1999, FRONT PAGE
- Oceanside bilingual-education bids rejected
San Diego Union-Tribune, Saturday, January 23, 1999
- Group presses plea to restore bilingual classes
San Diego Union-Tribune, Tuesday, November 24, 1998
- Schools differ on Prop. 227
San Diego Union-Tribune, Monday, October 12, 1998