It's time to resurrect the issue of bilingual education especially since Texas will be considering it anew vis-a-vis various funding proposals that are to be examined this legislative session. I also want to make resources available to any who are interested on bilingual education.
One of these is a study conducted by Oscar M. Cárdenas, Senior Director, Principal Investigator as well as Stan Seidner, Program Director, Program Evaluation Unit at the Texas Education in 1998-99. The study is titled The Texas Successful Schools Study: Quality Education for Limited English Proficient Students. Folks should know from the weight of evidence that well-implemented, designed, funded, and staffed bilingual education programs (including dual language programs) yield solid, positive results in terms of both student achievement and biliteracy (literacy in two languages).
The EDWeek piece below by Zehr discusses research on bilingual education conducted by Professors Slavin and Alan Cheung in which they find the following: The use of native-language instruction in reading has an edge over using only English. Nearly two years have passed and it's curious that the DOE has not yet allowed this study to be released. Once can only surmise that it's findings on the positive effects of bilingual education programs go against the grain of federal education policy that seeks to standardize all youth on a single metric in order to ostensibly facilitate comparability of students' academic worth via high-stakes testing. Quien sabe.... Anyway, hope folks find all of this useful. I'll post a permanent link to the Cardenas and Seidner et al. study on the side bar of my blog shortly.
Also, Happy New Year everybody! -Angela
February 4, 2004
Study Gives Advantage To Bilingual Education Over Focus on English
By Mary Ann Zehr
Robert E. Slavin, a Johns Hopkins University researcher and the chairman of the Success for All Foundation, said he intends to change how he advises schools to teach reading to English-language learners as a result of the review.
Bilingual education has a particularly positive effect, say Mr. Slavin and Alan Cheung, a research scientist at the Baltimore-based Success for All Foundation, when students are taught to read both in their native languages and in English at the same period in their lives, though at different times in a single day. Their study calls that approach a "paired-bilingual program." It differs from many bilingual education programs that postpone teaching children to read in English until they've learned to read in their native languages.
In the past, the Success for All Foundation, which provides reading programs in both English and Spanish, has remained neutral on whether schools should teach students to read in English or Spanish, Mr. Slavin said. But now, he said, he will give educators using the Success for All program a copy of the new study and recommend they include some native-language instruction with English-language learners if they have the option.
Mr. Slavin and Mr. Cheung are among a number of researchers who have compared the effectiveness of bilingual education and English-only instruction.
Most researchers shared the conclusion of Mr. Slavin and Mr. Cheung: The use of native-language instruction in reading has an edge over using only English.
In a 1996 review of studies comparing both approaches, however, Christine H. Rossell, a political science professor at Boston University, and Keith Baker, an education consultant who is now retired, concluded that English-only methods are better.
Mr. Slavin last week faulted the methodology of the Rossell- Baker study, as well as some other researchers' work, citing the use of low standards in selecting studies and the application of inconsistent standards.
Ms. Rossell stands by her findings. She contends that Mr. Slavin erroneously excluded some worthy studies. Still, she acknowledged last week that if she were to redo that review, she would omit two or three of the studies that she had selected. For example, she would eliminate studies of programs that lasted for less than a year.
At the same time, Ms. Rossell noted that Mr. Slavin's work didn't duplicate the review that she conducted with Mr. Baker because Mr. Slavin had selected only 17 studies as meeting his criteria, while they had chosen 72.
Mr. Slavin said that the studies the Slavin-Cheung analysis examined were much more conclusive collectively than he had expected them to be, however, given the continual debate over the subject. "The high-quality evidence was pretty consistent either in saying that bilingual education methods were more effective or there was no difference," he said.
Mr. Slavin's research was part of a more comprehensive review of studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education and two other federal agencies at a cost of $1 million. Mr. Slavin was a member of the group formed nearly two years ago for, the National Literacy Panel on the Development of Literacy Among Language Minority Children and Youth.
He resigned as a panelist last summer because the Education Department wouldn't permit him to publish his research before the panel's conclusions would be released, he said. "From the perspective of academic freedom, I didn't like the idea of something I did being held up for no particular reason," he said last week.
An Aug. 1, 2003, letter from the department to SRI International, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based contractor working on the project, said that data from the research were not to be made public until they were reviewed by the department "to ensure we are issuing a top-quality product based on principles of rigorous scientific research."
Diane August, the executive director of the panel and a senior research scientist at the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics, said the panel was redoing the part of the review that had been assigned to Mr. Slavin.
Ms. August expects the department to release the panel's report by the end of the summer.
On the Web
The Center for Applied Linguistics publishes research digests highlighting "topics of current interest in foreign language education, ESL, bilingual education, and linguistics." See, for example, "English Language Learners and High-Stakes Tests: An Overview of the Issues."
"The Role of Theory and Policy in the Educational Treatment of Language Minority Students: Competitive Structures in California," August 2003 , from the Education Policy Analysis Archives, examines theoretical and policy-based positions that compete to shape the education of language-minority students.
"A National Study of School Effectiveness for Language-Minority Students’ Long-Term Academic Achievement: Final Report," 2002, from the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence, is a five-year study analyzing a variety of education services for language-minority students.
© 2003 Editorial Projects in Education Vol. 23, number 21, page 10