Shows a Consistent Edge in Teaching English, According to Stanford 9 Achievement
TEMPE. -- As backers of Proposition 203 make deceptive claims about California test scores, here in Arizona there is no doubt that children who learn English in bilingual classrooms are outperforming their counterparts in English-only classrooms.
The pattern is remarkably consistent. At every grade level over the past three years, Arizona children in bilingual education have scored higher on the Stanford 9 reading test – in English – than children learning English through “immersion” alone, according to the Arizona Department of Education.
It is widely agreed that reading ability is one of the most important predictors of academic success for all students. Thus the superiority of bilingual education in cultivating English literacy is good news for the state’s Latino and Native American students, who have often lagged behind other groups in school achievement and completion rates.
Significantly, the reading advantage for bilingual education students in Arizona increased in the upper grades. This confirms the findings of research at the national level, which has documented the long-term benefits of bilingual approaches.
“There seems to be a significant difference between these two programs in the reading achievement of children learning English, and bilingual education has the edge,” said Dr. Jeff MacSwan of the Arizona State University College of Education. “It is all the more impressive because the data are so consistent.”
Yet, despite this record of success, Proposition 203 would dismantle virtually all bilingual education programs in the state of Arizona. In their place, it would mandate a statewide, one-year curriculum of “structured English immersion” – regardless of the individual needs of children learning English, the advice of educators, or the desires of parents. Local school boards would also have no say in the matter – regardless of how well existing programs were working.
Under current law, parents have the right to choose between bilingual education and other educational options. But under Proposition 203, there would be virtually no choice.
“Imposing this type of one-size-fits-all approach would be a terrible mistake,” said Alejandra Sotomayor, co-chair of the Arizona Language Education Council. “English-only programs have a history of failure for Hispanic and Native American students, and the latest Stanford 9 scores confirm that. People who really care about children’s pportunity to learn English effectively should support parents’ right to choose bilingual education.”
The Arizona Language Education Council
is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating the public about the
historical and present context of the education of language minority children in
Arizona. We are parents, teachers, business people, tribal leaders, community
volunteers, and researchers. We are united by our concern for the academic
success of children learning English and other languages in our state.
Using Deceptive Statistics, English-Only Proponents Ask Arizonans to Repeat California's Mistake
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 21, 2000
Arizona Language Education Council (http://www.alec2000.org)
TEMPE -- As the saying goes, "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure." Selective use of statistics can be just as dishonest as outright fabrication of evidence.
As Exhibit A, we offer Ron Unz, the Silicon Valley millionaire who has single-handedly bankrolled Proposition 203, the initiative to outlaw bilingual education in Arizona. The measure would deny parents any choice in schooling for children learning English.
Mr. Unz, who sponsored a similar initiative adopted by Californians in 1998, is now claiming credit for "a huge rise" in the achievement test scores of immigrant children there. On this basis he hopes to convince Arizona voters to pass an even more restrictive English-only law here. His pitch sounds plausible -- until you learn the whole story.
It is true that the Stanford 9 test scores of English learners have been increasing in California over the past three years. But so have those of ALL types of students -- rich and poor, white and minority, immigrant and non-immigrant -- a fact that Mr. Unz conveniently fails to mention.
The pattern of steadily rising scores
holds just as true for children from English-language backgrounds -- who were
not affected by the English-only law, known as Proposition 227 -- as it does for
What's more, a new study by Stanford
University researchers shows that students in bilingual classrooms are
performing just as well or better on the Stanford 9 than those in English-only
classrooms. About 12 percent of
The research team, led by psychologist
Kenji Hakuta, randomly sampled the performance of LEP students in three
different types of districts:
It concluded that, over the past three years, Stanford 9 "scores rose for all students" in these districts. The study found "no clear pattern that could be attributable to Proposition 227." Indeed, "the rise for native English speakers from poor performing schools was dramatic and larger than for LEP students." (For more information on the study, see: http://www.stanford.edu/~hakuta/).
What do the rising scores signify?
Researchers with no political axe to grind will cite multiple factors. In
California, these include a host of simultaneous school reforms, including
sharply reduced class size in the
"Studies show that students always
score higher each year on commercial tests," said David Berliner, Dean of the
College of Education at Arizona State University. "There were gains of two
points each year on the
Of course, year-to-year, district-wide comparisons of achievement test data - which involve different students and lack controls for socioeconomic status and other variables - is a crude way to measure program effectiveness, to say the least. The research base favoring bilingual education is much more solid.
"Controlled, scientific studies have consistently shown that children in properly organized bilingual education programs acquire English at least as well and usually better than children in all-English programs," said Stephen Krashen of the University of Southern California. This was the conclusion of a review of research on bilingual education in Arizona by Krashen and two colleagues (available at: http://www.alec2000.org/research2.htm).
Arizona Language Education Council (http://www.alec2000.org) is a nonprofit
association dedicated to educating the public about the historical and present
context of the education of language minority children in Arizona. We are
parents, teachers, business people, tribal leaders, community volunteers, and
researchers. We are united by our concern for the academic success of children
learning English and other languages in our state.
Official Ballot Summary For Prop 203 (Anti-Bilingual Initiative) is Inaccurate And Misleading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 19, 2000
Arizona Language Education Council (http://www.alec2000.org)
PHOENIX -- The official ballot summary for Proposition 203, the initiative to outlaw bilingual education, is inaccurate and misleading, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled today in a lawsuit brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. According to the three-judge panel, the Legislative Council failed to meet its legal obligation to provide an "impartial description" of the measure, which will appear on the November 7 ballot.
The high court ordered the Council to revise the summary to remove erroneous information before voter information pamphlets are printed next week. At issue was a paragraph in the summary that "mistakes existing law," the court found, by asserting that Arizona requires bilingual education for all children learning English. In fact, state law currently gives the parents of these students a range of options to choose from. These include not only bilingual instruction but also a variety of all-English methodologies, including the "structured immersion" approach that Proposition 203 would mandate statewide.
According to the Arizona Department of
Education, less than one-third of eligible children are now in bilingual
classrooms. The rest receive various forms of English-only instruction. In other
words, the Legislative Council got it backward. Today in Arizona there is no
statewide mandate for any particular approach in teaching
On procedural grounds, the Court left
intact another paragraph of the summary that, according to MALDEF, also conveyed
a false impression. The Legislative Council asserted that "Proposition 203
allows parents to apply for waivers from participation in English immersion
programs" under various circumstances, without explaining that their choices
would be far more restricted than under current law. For example, the initiative
would absolutely prohibit bilingual instruction for English learners under age
10 -- who make up the vast majority of
"These so-called 'waivers' are a sham
designed to fool the voters," said Alejandra Sotomayor, a party to the lawsuit
and a coordinator of the Arizona Language Education Council. "Parents now have
the right to choose whether they want their kids in bilingual education or not.
Proposition 203 would take away their right to choose in most cases. Simple as
that." The initiative is also deceptive in claiming to promote "English for the
Children" while limiting English instruction to "a temporary transition period
not normally intended to exceed one year." This would seriously disrupt
English-as-a-second language programs, which typically last at least three
years. "Research shows that most kids need much more than a year to learn
English," noted Jeff MacSwan, assistant professor of education at Arizona State
University. "The problem with all-English instruction is that by the time
Indeed, bilingual education does appear to give children an important edge in student achievement. According to data reported by Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction, children in bilingual education consistently score significantly higher in English reading than students enrolled in English-only programs statewide.
"We're trying to get the word out that this initiative is bad for kids," said Sal Gabaldon, an administrator with Tucson Unified School District and a concerned citizen. "We hope people will believe experienced educators and the data coming out of our own state department of education over the opinion of the politically ambitious software engineer who authored the initiative."
For more information, contact
Alejandra Sotomayor at 520-465-0236 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the
MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND in Los Angeles CA at (213)
629-2512 or Richard M. Martinez in Tucson at (520) 327-4797.
Lawsuit Filed Seeking To Block Prop 203 As Misleading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 14, 2000
Arizona Language Education Council (http://www.alec2000.org)
PHOENIX, AZ- Lawyers for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) went to court today to block a misleading summary of Proposition 203, the anti-bilingual initiative, from being presented to the voters. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Alejandra Sotomayor and Salvador Gabaldon, petitions the Arizona Supreme Court to reject the official analysis of Proposition 203, approved by the Legislative Council last month, because it contains inaccurate and misleading statements.
The Council is legally required to
produce neutral explanations that fairly and accurately describe initiative
proposals and their likely effects. "The Arizona Legislative Council has failed
to perform a duty required by
The analysis incorrectly states that
the existing laws in Arizona require that public schools provide unlimited
bilingual education instruction to every student who is not fluent in English.
Arizona revised statutes say
Secondly, the analysis states,
"Proposition 203 allows parents to apply for waivers from participation in
English immersion programs if their child already knows English, is at least
10-years-old, or is a special needs
The analysis also fails to describe
the terms of waiver classes. According to the analysis if a waiver is granted,
the student will be transferred to classes that teach English and other subjects
through traditional bilingual
The analysis provided by the Arizona Legislative Council overstates the rights that parents would have under the initiative to obtain waiver programs for their children by omitting a significant limitation on the provision of waiver programs, Gabaldon said.
A similar situation in Colorado caused
the Supreme Court to remove a proposed initiative to limit bilingual education
off the ballot. On July 10 of this year it was ruled that the initiative failed
to inform voters that
"Prop 203 is not just about immigrant children. This punitive proposal would dismantle Native American languages across the state. The Navajo, Tohono O'odham, Pima and Apache tribes have adopted resolutions against this initiative," said Sotomayor, "This isn't about good educational policy. It is a politically motivated proposal that disregards that fact that children in bilingual education programs do better on English standardized tests than those in English immersion."
For more information, contact Alejandra Sotomayor at 520-465-0236 or email at email@example.com. MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND in Los Angeles CA (213) 629-2512 or Richard M. Martinez, Tucson (520) 327-4797