NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Test Scores Rise for Limited-English California Students

August 16, 2000

Just two years after voters ended most bilingual education in California, statewide test scores for non-English speakers shot up about as much as scores for their fluent peers. California's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) exam is taken by public school students in second through 11th grades.

  • The overall results for 4.7 million students showed increases of several percentage points in nearly every grade and subject -- even though scores remained below the national average in reading.
  • The largest improvement came in the lowest grades, particularly second and third grades, according to the state's Department of Education.
  • When scores for the nearly 1 million students who aren't proficient in English are discounted, the remaining English-proficient students were above the national average for reading in all grades except high school -- and in math for all grades.
  • Despite the improvement in their scores, students who are not proficient in English scored well below the national average in all areas.

The state's superintendent of schools commented that the test results show that it is difficult for students to do well in academic-content areas until they are proficient in English.

Opponents of bilingual education hailed the results as a vindication of their work to pass Proposition 227 -- which required teaching to be "overwhelmingly" in English for immigrant children.

Source: Associated Press, "Test Scores Jump for Students with Limited English," Washington Times, August 16, 2000.


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