Immigrant Test Scores Jump after Prop. 227

More test score data has now been released, again showing an astonishing rise in immigrant student scores in the wake of Prop. 227, which dismantled bilingual education last year.

Oceanside district, which had most strictly complied with Prop. 227, raised percentile scores 100% or 200% across all grades and subjects. Now a number of districts in Orange County are demonstrating remarkable results as well: Cypress, up an average of 39% to 54% in different subjects and from a much higher initial base; Magnolia, up 54% to 77%; Buena Park, up 61% to 77%; and many others.

A major article in AsianWeek, exploring the remarkable Oceanside results, presents the emerging counter-argument from bilingual advocates, quoting David Ramirez, a prominent professor of bilingual studies, as saying of the test score results: “It’s impossible.”

A secondary line of argument from bilingual activists suggests that the rises in immigrant scores are due to factors such as class size reduction and general improvement in academic standards. Unfortunately, these individuals are apparently unaware that a detailed multimillion-dollar study released days ago found that class-size reduction had at most raised California scores by 3 percentage points over three years at a cost of $4 BILLION. Furthermore, all these other factors applied equally to immigrant and non-immigrant students, and districts with complied or attempted to circumvent Prop. 227.

Although a final verdict on Prop. 227 will not be available until all remaining district scores are released later this week, these initial results are quite astonishing.

Personally, I am unaware of any previous educational reform which managed to raise test scores by even 10% in a single year, let alone 50%-100% in just seven months. Most of the popular reforms advocated by Right, Left, and Center—school uniforms, class-size reduction, an end to social promotion, vouchers, charters, various curriculum changes—have achieved actual results so scanty it takes a microscope (or a multimillion-dollar study) to discover them after a decade of trial. It does not appear that California will require a microscope to judge Prop. 227.

Since a very long series of Democratic and Republican politicians, in California and nationwide, have devoted the past few years to prattling on endlessly about improving education as their number one priority, and since nearly all of these devoted prattlers strongly opposed Prop. 227—which seems to be about the only really successful educational reform during this period—I am eagerly awaiting the U-Turn.

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