Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Immersion, Increase, and Decrease

I have two points to make about this story concerning "Hmong flight" away from Minneapolis North High School.

Let's begin with a quote:

Safety isn't the only problem. Wa Chora Yang also worried that his children weren't making sufficient progress speaking English at the Minneapolis schools. "They just put all the Hmong there in one class," he says. "They just speak Hmong all the time. They don't speak English."

Hooray for Mr. Yang! Immersion is the best way to learn a language. School systems seem to have figured that out with every language except English.

And then there's this quote:

Despite the sanguine views expressed by the incoming Hmong students, evidence is mixed as to the effectiveness of the Choice Is Yours program. A 2006 analysis by the Minnesota Department of Education found that kids enrolled in the program did better on standardized tests than their peers in the Minneapolis schools. But a follow-up study, released in January of this year, showed markedly different findings. It determined that, on average, students enrolled in the program fared 15 percent worse in reading comprehension gains and 17 percent worse in math skills increases than their counterparts enrolled in grades three through seven.

Did you catch that? The "gains" in reading comprehension and "increases" in math skills were less than the students who stayed put. Did you see any mention of what the actual scores were? By way of illustration, if Person X goes from a C-minus to a B-minus and Person Y goes from an A-minus to an A, who is doing better in school? This is the danger of measuring only "gains" and "increases."

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Blogger Mahan said...

Interesting points. The movve away from immersion has to be one of the greatest blows against immigrants (in my opinion) inflicted by the current educational system's proponents. It does them a great disservice, and, by extension, the nation.

June 20, 2007 12:55 PM  

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