by Matt Rosenberg January 10th, 2012
Twenty percent of students enrolled in transitional bilingual education programs in Washington state K-12 public schools in 2010-2011 who took a key English language proficiency test passed it. Four-fifths didn’t. Those who passed were then able to transition during the school year to all-English instruction in core subjects. The 20.5 percent passage rate is up from 13 percent the prior year and slightly higher than the 18 percent the year before that. But it took those who transitioned longer to do so than at any previous time from 2005-06 through last year. In addition for students who did successfully transition last year, their performance lagged the general student population in meeting state assessment standards in reading, writing and math and particularly science. The news comes in a required annual report to the state legislature from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, published in December. It’s on the state’s Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program and key performance indicators.
On a percentage basis more second graders successfully transitioned, followed by 11th, 10th and sixth graders. Other than kindergarteners and 1st-graders, it was seventh- and eighth-graders who had the lowest percentages of transitioning to all-English.
Students who successfully transitioned in 2010-11 took longer to do so on average than at any point in the last five years; 3.86 years. The previous low within the last five years was 3.13 years in 2009-10. And even as they demonstrated sufficient mastery of English, transitioning students on average had more difficulty meeting baseline standards in reading, writing, math, and science, on last year’s state Measurement of Student Progress tests or High School Proficiency Exams. Fifty-five percent of them in public school grades 3-8 and 10 met state testing standards in reading versus 71 percent of all public school counterparts. The comparison was 60 percent to 75 percent for writing (measured at grade levels 4, 7 and 10); 44 percent versus 60 percent for science (grades 3-8 and 10); and 27 percent versus 58 percent for science (measured at grades 5, 8 and 10).
The ratio between average number of TBIP students funded to total staff actually grew from 32:1 in 2009-10 to 34:1 in 2010-11. The state paid out $92 million for TBIP instruction in 2010-11 with all but 16 percent coming from the state. Salaries accounted for 70 percent of the spending, benefits 26 percent, supplies and other costs the remaining four percent. State TBIP spending was up 6 percent last year from 2009-10. As a rough comparative measure, this contrasts to a 4 percent increase in U.S. inflation according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator between 2010 and 2011. According to the OSPI report Washington state TBIP spending in 2010-11 had increased more than 100 percent from $38.4 million in school year 1999-2000. This compares to a 36 percent increase in inflation from 1999 to 2011 according to the BLS CPI Inflation Calculator. Washington state TBIP enrollment grew about 50 percent from 66,281 in 2000 to 98,472 in 2010-11.
TBIP is the state’s main K-12 bilingual program and includes most but not all students classified as “English Language Learners” or ELL. ELLs are defined as having a primary language other than English plus English language deficiencies which interfere with learning in standard classrooms. TBIP focuses on the ELL students most in need and is directed to “provide temporary support services until (they) can develop English language skills” and transition to standard classrooms by passing the Washington Language Proficiency Test (WLPT-II) which measures reading, writing, listening and speaking. Alternative scenarios for ELLs include waiving participation in TBIP with parental approval, or where appropriate, taking special education classes. Other ELL students may drop out, graduate without transitioning; or leave their district before transitioning, with no sign of registering in another Washington K-12 public school district. Counting all ELL students registered at the beginning of last school year, not just those who took the test, an adjusted total of 18.7 percent successfully transitioned.
District-by district performance data for percentage of ELL K-12 students successfully transitioning to all-English instruction in Washington state public school districts in 2010-11 is given in the report on pp. 79-82.
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