Los Angeles Times
Saturday, August 22, 1998
Study: Switch to English Immersion Is Successful
By LESLEY WRIGHT
An English-immersion program that spawned controversy when launched
by the Orange Unified School District a year ago is successfully helping
children who speak little or no English learn the language faster than
bilingual education, a consultant's report found.
"The program is extremely successful,"
said Kevin Clark of Stockton-based Clark Consulting Group. "My only
recommendation would be not to stop doing what you're doing."
The district was one of the first in the
state to halt bilingual instruction for 5,000 elementary students in all
37 of its schools. Legal cases brought by activist groups opposed to the
move delayed the start of English-immersion instruction until November.
The study found that by the end of the year,
81% of students in the program were at advanced stages of English fluency.
That means those students gained enough English to participate "at
a high level" in classroom work.
While these students did not achieve test
scores as high as classmates who speak English as a first language, Clark
cautioned that most are still not completely fluent. He said the data showed
that advanced levels of fluency relate directly to higher levels of academic
District trustees, who heard a presentation
from Clark on Thursday, said the results justified the financial and emotional
struggles of the court challenges.
"It is gratifying to see the fruits
of all our sacrifices," said Trustee Robert Viviano, who had initiated
the move to English immersion last year.