better for kids than bilingual classes, study says
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 6, 2004
Arizona's Structured English Immersion classes learn at a faster pace than
students who take bilingual education classes, according to a study released
Thursday by the Arizona Department of Education.
Tom Horne, state superintendent of public instruction, said the study proves
children who primarily speak a foreign language are better served by
"When there is a debate, you want to keep people updated," Horne said. "I'm
letting the public know what a scientific study is saying."
The National Association for Bilingual Education, however, called Horne's
study "irresponsible," saying it does nothing to prove either instructional
model is better and is nowhere near scientific.
The Arizona results showed students in immersion classes outperformed
bilingual education students in every grade level between second and eighth
grade in reading, language and math, based on Stanford 9 scores.
There starts to be a significant difference at the sixth-grade level, at
which immersion students were more than one year ahead of the bilingual
students in math.
By the eighth grade, there was at least a one-year difference in all three
"There is not a single exception," Horne said. "It tells us that the
students in English immersion do substantially better."
The study was conducted during the 2002-03 school year and used the Stanford
9, a national, norm-referenced exam, to measure what the students had
The study is not meant to prove that students will show significant progress
over a span of six grade levels. It just proves how much more students in
immersion classes had learned than those in bilingual classes, Horne said.
Because the immersion program is already in place, Horne said no change in
policy will result from the study. All students who took part in the study
are now in the immersion program as part of the voter-approved English
immersion law of 2000, which Horne began enforcing in 2003.
James Crawford, executive director of the National Association for Bilingual
Education, said the study proves nothing and challenged Horne to fund an
extensive study that accounts for outside factors, such as level of poverty
or the student's initial knowledge of English.
Crawford said it is irresponsible for a state organization, and its
superintendent, to prove an "ideological" teaching method by "misusing" one
set of test scores.
"It's really a crapshoot for kids to subject them to a kind of approach that
has no track record," Crawford said. "It's really a waste of taxpayer
Horne responded to Crawford's criticism by insisting his study is valid and
"We are relying on science," he said. "And they're stuck in ideology."
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