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Friday, June 17, 2005

Study: Bilingual Principals Not Vital

Just because no statistical correlation is obtained doesn't mean that bilingual principals are "not vital." -Angela

DISD: Survey shows test scores unaffected by language leaders use

07:16 AM CDT on Friday, June 17, 2005

By TAWNELL D. HOBBS / The Dallas Morning News


At a time when some community leaders want all principals of mostly Hispanic schools to be bilingual, a DISD analysis suggests that wouldn't have much effect on student performance.

"There is no statistical significant difference between the performance of schools with bilingual principals and the schools without bilingual principals, in either reading or math," according to a June 10 Dallas Independent School District memo.

Trustee Joe May is pushing a proposal that principals at campuses where at least half of the students have been in limited English proficiency programs must learn the language spoken by the majority of the students. The principals would have three years to attain language proficiency at the district's expense.

The plan, brought to trustees last month, has been a contentious issue.

Trustee Hollis Brashear asked district administrators to assess whether such a plan would help students.

The review looked at state scores in the major core subjects of reading and math on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. According to the district's assessment, 89 schools would qualify for the plan.

For students who were supervised by principals who were not bilingual, the average reading pass rate was 76.08 percent. For students supervised by bilingual principals, the average reading pass rate was 76.06 percent.

The average math pass rate for students at schools with principals who were not bilingual was 69.95 percent, compared with an average pass rate of 72.65 percent at schools with bilingual principals.

The district's analysis said many factors could contribute to student performance, including having a supportive learning environment, opportunities to learn and high achievement expectations.

"The extent to which a principal speaking Spanish contributes to these factors for improving student achievement in [predominantly limited-English proficient] schools is unknown," the assessment states.

Mr. Brashear said he would not support the plan when it comes to the board in August.

"Requiring principals to speak another language doesn't make any difference," he said. "This appears on the surface a tactic to get more Hispanic-speaking people in leadership positions."

But Mr. May disputes the district's data.

"I have to think that my idea has never been embraced by the administration to begin with," he said. "I will be countering that data; I will be presenting my own."

Mr. May said the goal of the plan is to allow parents who don't speak English to communicate with their child's principal – and to provide principals with a communication tool. That, he said, is critical.

"All roads lead to parental participation," he said.

E-mail tdhobbs@dallasnews.com
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Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/dn/education/stories/061705dnmetbilingual.17d5df3f.html

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