A study released by the American Institutes for Research and WestED says that no one approach shows significant gains over others in teaching English learners, whether it be English immersion, or bilingual education courses.
What does show a relationship? Not surprisingly, the report cites poverty is the one indicator that is determinant in test scores more than how quickly students complete an English remediation program.
Five years ago, California voters passed Proposition 227, which proponents said would “mainstream” students for whom English was a second language, and opponents said would hurt children by throwing them into classes in English without proper preparation.
Why can’t results be seen? Well, test scores for English learners did go up in the past few years. However, scores across the board rose. The gap in score between English learners and others didn’t close significantly.
What the study may confirm is that there is no “one size fits all” approach to educating English learners. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the size and diversity of the population of students Prop 227 affected.
Ron Unz, who bankrolled the Prop 227 campaign, is quoted in the SF Chronicle calling the report “extremely expensive garbage” despite the fact that he acknowledged not reading the report.
Here’s a link to a press release for the study.