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The Proposition 227

English for the Children Enforcement Project

After Two Years of Prop. 227 English Immersion,
A Huge Rise in California’s Immigrant Scores;
Pro-Bilingual Education Districts Lag Behind

(310) 737-1969

Monday, August 14, 2000.

Statewide academic test scores of California’s 1.4 million limited-English immigrant students showed huge gains in the two years since the passage of Prop. 227, the June 1998 ballot initiative that largely replaced bilingual education with English immersion programs. Those school districts that most strictly complied with the terms of Prop. 227 exhibited the greatest gains, while those school districts that attempted to retain their bilingual programs lagged far behind the rest of the state.

From 1998 to 2000, California English learners in the elementary grades most affected by the changed curriculum (2 through 6) raised their mean percentile scores by 35% in reading, 43% in mathematics, 32% in language, and 44% in spelling, with an average increase of 39% across all subjects.

Oceanside Unified, which had most strictly followed the Prop. 227 requirements, showed perhaps the greatest immigrant student gains of any district, with reading scores rising 93% and math scores 100%. At neighboring Vista Unified, a pro-bilingual district of similar size and demography long cited by bilingual supporters as a model, scores actually fell in most subjects from 1999 to 2000, and are now far below those of Oceanside or the rest of the state. The scores of San Jose Unified, which was the sole school district in California legally exempt from the provisions of Prop. 227, also sharply lagged those of Oceanside and the rest of the state.

Prop. 227 author Ron Unz was elated by the dramatic rise in immigrant student performance: "During 1998, supporters of bilingual education predicted educational catastrophe if the measure were implemented, but the school district which did so most strictly has now doubled its immigrant test scores in less than two years. Schools in California and throughout the entire nation should come to Oceanside and learn from its wonderful example, both in English immersion and in other areas as well."

In sharp contrast, a major study by a consortium of state and national research institutes concluded that California’s massive three-year $4 billion class-size reduction program had raised mean percentile scores by just 2-3% per year.

English for the Children–Proposition 227

3415 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite #370, Los Angeles, CA 90034 Tel: 310-737-1949 Fax: 310-737-1959

Web: www.YesOn227.org E-Mail: [email protected]