Los Angeles Times
Sunday, July 19, 1998
Stanford 9 Scores Show Bilingual Program Success
Current programs do allow fourth-grade students to transition
to English, without losing content instruction while learning the language.
By JACQUELYN PINSON
In March we were commanded by the state to give the Stanford 9 test
to all second- and third-graders at Peach Hill School in Moorpark, regardless
of language background and ability.
I teach the highest performing English-speaking
Spanish-readers in the third grade. They also receive math instruction
in an integrated English class. At Peach Hill School, we place our third-grade
Spanish readers for English instruction appropriate to their English-language
Our district policy is to transition Spanish
readers to English in their fourth-grade year, provided they are ready.
The criteria are that they have attended school regularly since kindergarten,
have made regular academic progress, have developed oral English skills
and are interested in doing more academic work in English.
Many of my students have transitioned themselves
this year. We have a school-wide independent reading program for the students
to read books of personal interest, and many have begun to read in English.
A few of my Spanish readers actually scored
above the Peach Hill third-grade average in total reading and total math
scores for the English Stanford 9 exam.
I expected all of my Spanish readers to score
below grade level in all areas but was pleasantly surprised to see that
many scored at or above grade level in the areas of reading vocabulary
in context and reading comprehension for functional and recreational purposes.
Isn't it interesting that these are exactly
the areas in which students can transfer reading skills from one language
I can just imagine--and hope to see--what
these students' test scores will be next year, when they also have one
year of English reading instruction (they will transition to English reading
I wish that I could compare those scores
with the scores of students in other districts who have been confined to
struggle in English since kindergarten. I predict that my students' English
Stanford 9 scores will be higher.
In addition, as I predicted, four of them
have been accepted into a program for gifted and talented students next
year, and two more are being tracked into it. In our district, students
are first identified for that program in fourth grade.
At the district level, the average scores
of students who learned English in the Moorpark bilingual education program
were almost as high as the average scores of native speakers of English.
I know that none of these things could have
happened had these students been sitting in the back of an English-only
classroom as second-class citizens and English remedial readers.
I am very concerned about the future of our
programs. I see us actually going backward to the time before bilingual
programs, when most language minority students were placed in special-education
classes or retained at grade level because of language. We daily receive
students from neighboring districts without appropriate programs, students
who have been so treated only because of a language "disability."
Our students will transition to English (we
do believe in true "English for the children") but will not have
lost content instruction in any area as they transition, if they continue
to be taught academics in their primary language and have the opportunity
to learn English at their own appropriate levels.
Jacquelyn Pinson, an Oxnard Resident, Teaches Bilingual Third-graders
at Peach Hill School in the Moorpark Unified School District