NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

English Immersion Outperforms Bilingual Education In California

August 23, 2000

California public schools report that students with limited English proficiency registered dramatic gains in reading and math after they were removed from bilingual education classes and taught in English.

Here is a closer look at that process, by comparing the achievements of students in one school district which embraced English instruction with the experiences of students in another school district which clung to bilingual instruction:

  • The Oceanside School District, near San Diego, put students who didn't speak English into an intensive one-year English program and then transferred them to regular classes, taught in English.
  • They registered gains in test scores approaching 100 percent, from 1998 to 2000.
  • Students in San Jose Unified School District, which has demographics similar to those of Oceanside, allowed many of its students to remain in bilingual classes -- due to it being the only district in the state legally exempted from the requirement to teach in English.
  • Test results of students in San Jose actually fell behind those of Oceanside -- and indeed, results in the rest of the state.

Such developments are now fueling efforts to reconfigure bilingual education from New York City to Colorado. Arizona will vote this fall on a ballot initiative to strike down bilingual education.

Source: Editorial, "California Scores," Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2000.


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