NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Dual Language Immersion Outscores Bilingual Ed

October 14, 2003

Standard bilingual programs isolate bilingual students, most of whom are Spanish speakers, from English-speaking students from pre-kindergarten through the third grade.

During the early childhood years, Spanish is the dominant language of instruction:

  • In bilingual programs, according to experts, pre-K students receive 80 percent of their instruction in Spanish and 20 percent in English.
  • In kindergarten, the ratio shifts to 70 percent Spanish, 30 percent English; first grade students receive 60/40, and second-graders, 50/50.
  • By the third grade, the ratio changes to 80/20 in favor of English, and by the fourth grade students are instructed exclusively in English.
  • Among bilingual education students, 68 percent scored proficient in reading and 92 percent were passing or above; in the dual language school, 68 percent also scored proficient, but 100 percent were passing or above.
  • In writing, 31 percent of bilingual students scored proficient, 86 percent passing or above; the numbers for dual language students were 53 percent and 96 percent, respectively.
  • And in math, bilingual students scored 56 percent proficient, 97 percent passing or above; dual language students, 82 percent and 100 percent.

Source: Marta Plata and Stan Ivie (Texas Woman's University), "Two languages and a third way," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 14, 2003.


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