Substituting English immersion for
bilingual education is not working well
Seattle Statesman Journal
April 11, 2006
Stephen Krashen - Guest Opinion
Regarding the March 28 online column “California’s English learners: Can you say
‘Held back’?” Kelly Torrance feels that the increase of English learners scoring
in the two highest levels of the California English Language Development Test (CELDT)
shows that dismantling bilingual education (Proposition 227) worked. But these
increases appear to have nothing to do with real improvement.
This January, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that at least
some of the increase in the percentage of students at the top two CELDT levels
was because of a traffic jam: Many children in these levels have been there for
several years; the percentage of those moving into the advanced levels has
The overall progress of children in California under English immersion is
actually very slow; average gains are less than one level of the CELDT per year,
out of five levels, where level five means “ready for the mainstream.” Also, an
analysis done by the American Institutes for Research and WestEd showed that
substituting English immersion for bilingual education has not accelerated the
English development of California’s English learners.
Stephen Krashen is a professor emeritus, University of Southern California. He
is the author of “Condemned without a Trial: Bogus Arguments against Bilingual
Education.” He can be reached at
Hill, E. 2006. Update, 2002-2004: The progress of English learner students.
Sacramento, CA: Legislative Analyst.
Jepsen, C. and de Alth, S. 2005. English learners in California schools. San
Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California.
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.
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