Thesis Title

The New Face of Bilingual Education: Is It Worth the Battle? One School's Struggle

Graduation Date

Spring 2001

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD


This study examined the changing role of bilingual education in a Title I elementary school in Northern California. The review of the literature revealed that there is a lot of misinterpretation and confusion about the role of native language use in academic settings. There are no detailed, undisputed guidelines for effective program models in bilingual education but there are some overarching themes and characteristics found across the board in successful programs. Above all, it is found that native language literacy is an important determining factor in the academic success of English Language Learners (ELL’s) and that reading in the native language does not detract from learning to read in English but actually supports the development of English reading skills. Meta-analyses revealed that although it is difficult to establish an exact formula for success in bilingual education, there are several factors that contribute to the effectiveness of programs under review. Among others, those factors include high expectations for language minority students, a strong English language development component, and program support at all levels.

After the passage of Proposition 227 in 1998, the school district struggled to reorganize its bilingual programs. This project examines the ways individual teachers and the school site dealt with the district leadership's interpretation of the proposition and how the program has changed in the wake of Proposition 227. It attempts to determine if the school is working effectively with the ELL’s in the bilingual classrooms.

As the classroom teacher, I kept a journal of the effect the administrative decisions had on day-to-day instruction, outlining the implications for my classroom practice and student placement decisions. My journal also reflected on some of the school-wide practices concerning ELL’s and focused in on the parents’ roles in obtaining bilingual instruction for their children.

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