California is just starting to get results from the achievement tests it gave 4.2 million public school children this spring. They will be fly-specked for evidence of how Proposition 227’s end to bilingual education is doing. One of the first report cards to arrive is from Oceanside, where nearly all of the district’s 4,500 non-English-speaking students are no longer taking any form of bilingual education (many other districts have used a loophole to sustain their bilingual programs). After just six months of English-immersion, the test scores of former bilingual students have more than doubled across nearly all of Oceanside’s grade levels in all subject areas. Last year’s seventh-graders were in the 4th percentile in national reading scores. This year’s are in the 23rd percentile.
Many districts haven’t taken Oceanside’s cold-turkey approach so their scores may vary, but Superintendent Ken Noonan (himself once a co-founder of the California Association of Bilingual Educators) says his English-only approach is paying dividends. California voters can take some satisfaction for having ignored the demagogues last year by deciding to end a failed program.