This paper compares the performance of English language learners on standardized tests in eight California school districts: Alum Rock Elementary, Atwater Elementary, Long Beach Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Oceanside Unified, Orange Unified, San Jose Unified and Vista Unified.
The school districts responded differently, with varying results, after Proposition 227 passed in 1998. The ballot initiative sought to dismantle the state’s bilingual education system and replace it with a system of English language immersion.
This is evidenced in student performance on two statewide exams, the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) and the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, which show significant improvement in English proficiency across the state.
But even those that made a gradual shift to instruction in English are now starting to show important gains. Often educators and administrators blame a lack of progress toward English fluency on any combination of three main factors: 1) low per-pupil spending; 2) large class sizes, and 3) negative socioeconomic conditions, such as poverty.
This paper analyzes how those factors correlate to data from recent CELDT and STAR results at eight school districts. It demonstrates that by making strong educational decisions about how children can best acquire critical English language skills, schools can overcome challenges such as poverty, lower perpupil spending and class size.
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