Stanford 9 scores rise for limited-English speakers

EDUCATION: Role of Prop. 227 is unclear.

Orange County students still learning English saw their Stanford 9 test scores rise this year – the second year Proposition 227 required most to learn in English immersion classes.

The state released more-detailed interpretations of the state-mandated test today, breaking down scores by different student populations, including limited-English-proficient students and those who have been in school for less than a year.

Statewide, overall scores for limited-English students – who make up one-fourth of public-school students – mirrored the increases shown by all California students.

Other breakdowns show:

With limited-English pupils removed from the data, students fluent in English score at or above the national average.

In high school, females perform better than males in all subjects except history and science.

Economically disadvantaged students score lower than wealthier students, but poorer students’ scores are rising.

Local educators say it’s hard to tell how much of the gain by limited-English students can be attributed to Prop. 227, the 1998 ballot initiative that aimed to ban bilingual education.

In addition to Prop. 227, educators say the state also added a myriad of reforms, including class-size reductions and more phonics.

“It’s a combination of issues,” said Jeff Bristow, testing administrator at Capistrano Unified School District. “At the same time, 227 forced the issue.”

Gloria Matta Tuchman, co-author of Prop. 227 and an English-immersion teacher in Santa Ana who is running for Congress, said while other programs have helped, Prop. 227 is a main reason for score increases.

While most Orange County districts now use mostly English-only instruction, bilingual-education classes continue in districts where parents request it, like Santa Ana Unified and Yorba Linda Unified.

Scores rose at Rio Vista Elementary School in Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, which offers both bilingual and English-only classes. Principal Kjell Taylor said he has yet to determine if one program produces better results, but both programs are required to meet the same English goals. Register staff writer Marla Jo Fisher contributed to this story.



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