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Alternative Instructional Models of Effective Bilingual Education Katherine G Hayes Robert Rueda Susan Chilton Alejandra Velasco and Icela Pelayo This paper presents an overview of classroom life and instruction in selected classrooms within two settings where English learners ELs prosper These settings are noteworthy because student outcomes differ from the outcomes that are normally observed for ELs National testing in 2005 indicated that nearly one half 46 of 4th grade students in the EL category scored below a basic level in mathematics the lowest possible level with nearly three quarters 73 scoring below basic in reading Middle school achievement in mathematics and reading were also very low with more than two thirds 71 of 8th grade ELs scoring below basic in both math and an equal percent of these students scoring below basic in reading Fry 2007 At Metropolitan Elementary and Secondary Academic District MESA 1 the school district in which this study took place only 13 8 of elementary English learners scored proficient or advanced on the 2008 English Language Arts portion of the CST2 and almost one half 46 6 scored far below basic or below basic These numbers are in stark contrast to English Only EO students district wide of whom more than one half 50 2 scored proficient or advanced on the 2008 English Language Arts portion of the CST and about 19 scored far below basic or below basic 3 Conversely at Archimedes and Orquidea Elementary Schools within the MESA District EL students receiving bilingual services have demonstrated strong academic gains either across 1 These pseudonyms are used to maintain the anonymity of the schools and students The CST is the California Standards Test and is a component of the statewide accountability system It tests English Language Arts ELA and is taken by students in grades two through eleven The test is a multiple choice assessment and includes a writing component at grades four and seven 3 It must be noted that 60 4 of the elementary students from MESA labeled as Initially Fluent English Proficient I FEP and 59 of the students labeled as Redesignated Fluent English Proficient R FEP scored at proficient or advanced on the CST ELA 2 1 the entire school as is the case for Archimedes or in the program specific classrooms included in this study which is the case for Orquidea At the time the study began Archimedes consistently met all 21 criteria of the Annual Yearly Progress AYP requirements outlined by the federal No Child Left Behind NCLB legislation More than 30 of EL students whose home language was Spanish and who were enrolled in Waiver to Basic Bilingual WB classes at Archimedes scored proficient or advanced on the 2008 English Language Arts portion of the CST see Table 1 Although the school wide achievement levels for ELs at Orquidea are less impressive with only 18 of ELs whose home language was Spanish in WB classrooms scoring proficient or advanced on the ELA CST students performed at much higher levels in the individual Orquidea classrooms studied For instance 68 of 4th graders in the sample WB classroom scored proficient or advanced on the 2008 English Language Arts portion of the CST and 70 of the 2nd graders in the sample classroom scored proficient or advanced on the same test outscoring all other language groups at the school Thus the major interest in these schools and classrooms is that students we studied from Archimedes and Orquidea outperform their peers in many other schools and classrooms The story of these schools is remarkable given the low district state and national achievement levels characterizing schools serving similar student populations Study Background There are ongoing educational and political debates about the best ways of assuring that EL students succeed academically and that they acquire basic academic as well as conversational English and grade level appropriate literacy skills An important shift in this debate around the education of EL students is from a singular focus on the question Should students be instructed in English or Spanish to a focus on What is the optimal instructional environment In many 2 ways this shift reflects a broader national concern with instructional quality and student outcomes August Shanahan 2006 Yet there is not widespread agreement about which approaches are best with which learners or whether there are multiple approaches that can achieve acceptable student outcomes Educators and policymakers have a pressing need for guidance in determining which approaches are effective with which students Goldenberg 2006 guidance that requires a systematic examination of programs that have had success in educating EL students and the factors make them successful in a specific local context Our primary area of interest is in reading achievement as reading is one area that is especially critical for the EL student population Reading is considered an essential skill in our society and there is a strong relationship between poor reading skills and lower overall academic achievement Chall 2000 Juel 1988 found that the probability of a poor reader at the end of 1st grade remaining a poor reader at the end of 4th grade was 88 EL students often experience difficulty in developing reading skills in the early grades When EL students fall behind their English speaking peers in reaching reading benchmarks they are often disproportionately referred to special education for assessment and placed in learning disabilities programs Artiles Rueda Salazar Higareda 2002 Additionally student motivation is of particular interest in our study because although it has been found to be critical to reading and comprehension with Englishspeaking students Guthrie Humenick 2004 Guthrie McLae Klauda 2007 it has not been well studied with English learners Moreover student motivation has received considerably less attention in educational policy than basic skills although both are key aspects of reading development Interestingly while recent research syntheses suggested that native language instruction should be considered for ELs August Shanahan 2006 Genesee Lindholm Leary Saunders 3 Christian 2006 Rolstead Mahoney Glass 2005 Slavin Cheung 2005 bilingual approaches have for the most part disappeared in California due to a statewide proposition Proposition 227 passed by voters in 1998 4 According to the Master Plan Evaluation Report 2002 03 for English Learner Programs the number of English learners in MESA s


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