Thursday, October 27, 2016

Another argument in favor of bilingual education: It acclerates English language development

Sent to the Christian Science Monitor, October 27, 2016

Ron Unz claims that the 1998 measure that dismantled bilingual education in California succeeded in teaching Spanish-speakers English. Not so: controlled scientific studies have consistently shown that students in bilingual programs outperform comparison students in all-English programs on tests of English reading.
In a recent analysis of 23 comparisons of students in bilingual and English immersion programs, Professors Grace and David McField concluded that when both program and research quality are considered, the superiority of bilingual education is considerably larger than previously reported.

Opponents of bilingual education claim that after the English-only measure passed, test scores rose. English learners' Stanford 9 test scores did indeed improve after Proposition 227 passed, but so did scores of all students and subgroups in California. A new version of the test was introduced the year before the English-only law was passed. Scores increased each year as students and teachers became more familiar with the test, a well-documented pattern when new tests are introduced. Careful analysis has shown no obvious improvement in English language development resulting from the passage of Prop. 227.

The Monitor accurately presented some of the arguments for allowing bilingual education. There is another important one: Bilingual education accelerates English language development.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

23 comparisons: McField, G. and McField, D. 2014.  "The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses." In Grace McField (Ed.) The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.
Previous meta-analyses of bilingual education research (all conclude that bilingual education is more effective than English immersion)
Greene, J. (1999). A meta-analysis of the Rossell and Baker review of bilingual education research. Bilingual Research Journal, 21 (2,3): 103-122.
Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., & Glass, G. (2005). The big picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness research on English language learners. Educational Policy 19(4): 572-594.
Slavin, R. and Cheung, A. (2005). A synthesis of research of reading instruction for English language learners, Review of Educational Research 75(2): 247-284.
Willig, A. (1985). A meta-analysis of selected studies on the effectiveness of bilingual education. Review of Educational Research 55(3): 269-317.
Well-documented pattern: Linn, R., Graue, E., and Sanders, N. 1990. Comparing state and district test results to national norms: The validity of claims that “everyone is above average.” Educational  Measurement: Issues and Practice 10: 5-14.
No obvious improvement: Parrish, T. et. al. 2006. Effects of the Implementation of  Proposition 227 on the Education   of English Learners, K–12, American Institutes for Research and WestEd.

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