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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Review of the Research on Instruction of Limited English Proficient Students: A Report to the California Legislature


The following report was written at the request of the Latino Caucus of the California Legislature and was completed in April of 1997 as the debate surrounding Proposition 227 was getting underway. The impetus for the report was the concern of the caucus that much of the rhetoric in the press and on the street was that "bilingual education had failed." The Caucus asked the question, "Is there research evidence that bilingual education works?" Hence, the task that was put to us was "not" to provide an accounting of studies and essays on all sides of the issue, but to essentially "present the case" for bilingual education.

We called upon many of the most distinguished researchers in the field and asked them to provide guidance in answering the question that had been posed to us. (Their names are listed at the end of the report). This report represents a synthesis of their recommendations along with some analysis of basic education data. Our essential conclusion is that while no single program is best for all children under all circumstances, a well-implemented bilingual program can provide outcomes "at least" as positive as a well- implemented English only program, and has the added advantage of potentially providing students with a second language --a considerable asset. It is only fair to note that had we been challenged to provide all sides of the debate, our conclusions would not have differed greatly, given that they are based on a considered analysis of the best empirical data we have been able to locate in the literature.

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