Amazing Grace Schools & Kids, posted by Daunna, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2007 at 1:45 pm
Having spent countless hours in the last five years working with Grace Mah in her pursuit of a Mandarin Immersion choice program, I have come to admire her enormously, not only because she's an advocate extraordinaire, but more importantly because of her personal qualities. I could list a string of complimentary attributes (collaborative, upbeat, honest, diligent, thorough, persistent, etc.), but there's one particular trait that I admire greatly: her respect for others as human beings, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with her. She reaches out to those who disagree in effort to understand their concerns, and she accepts differences without personalizing the disagreements. She has managed to turn the other cheek and see the opposition as opponents, not enemies. What impresses me tremendously is that I have never heard Grace badmouth anyone who attacked her character or stood in her way. There are no nasty nicknames or character assassinations in her private conversations.
There is no reason anyone should be reviled for championing an educational program of merit. There is no reason anyone should receive hate mail and phone calls for engaging in educational advocacy. All of us--choice supporters or choice opponents--would do well to take a page from Grace's book, and remind ourselves that each of us deserves respect for advocating for our kids, regardless of our viewpoints.
We all have dreams for our children's education. Let's not denigrate each other's dreams. When a new idea comes along, let's critique the proposal without crucifying the advocate.
Posted by Palo Alto way, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2007 at 1:57 pm
But that is the Palo Alto way--people like to claim that they are different here--all discussions and forums are carried out in a civil manner, with discourse that does not contain insults, personal attacks or comments that my abe construed as not contributing to the high level of discussion. that is until someone says something that people do not agree with or there something that the "special" citiznes of PA do not like. WItness the attacks on Grace Mah, remember how PA residents who do not like certain houses label them as monster homes or taco Bell homes. Think back to the days of the discussion on gas powered leaf-blowers when they were derided as third world backpacks (no racism there considering the ethnicity of the vast majority of gardeners).
Yes, PA residents like to put up a front that they are civil--just don;t cross them-then you will feel their wrath
Posted by a parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2007 at 1:20 am
I personally did not follow the whole MI controversy closely, and I don't have a strong opinion on any of the personalities involved in the debate.
What surprised me, and yes shocked me, is that a group of private persons with an agenda (whether they are anonymous or not) was allowed to fund the feasibility study for a program that they would like implemented by a public school district. Is that an accepted policy?
This really surprises and me and I find it disquieting. A public school district is there to support a global school population of unequal means and resources. Should such a public entity decide to implement programs on the basis of what group can afford to push and fund feasibity studies for those programs? I don't think this should be the case.
Posted by Daunna, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2007 at 7:24 am
This was done by district policy.
Alternative programs generally involve start-up costs and sometimes ongoing costs that exceed the normal cost of other educational programs. District policy requires parents to pick up excess costs. For example, a technology program is likely to be costly to set up and maintain. An immersion program has start-up costs (acquire foreign language library and teaching materials, develop a curriculum, train teachers in immersion methodology, etc.); once established (6 years for K-5), an immersion program costs the same as regular educational programs.
New this time around was the administration's plan to do a feasibility study, in which administrators traveled to other places to visit other immersion program, see how they were run, what kinds of problems/successes they had, what curriculums they used, etc. The administration estimated that the first phase of this would cost up to $66K, and since it was considered a start-up cost, parents would have to front the money. The $66K estimate was deliberately high, and in fact, only about $51K was used. If an MI program is brough about later, there will be more start-up costs to which the unused funds would apply; if MI never happens, the district made a "profit" of $15K. It's not refundable.
Posted by Resident, a resident of another community, on Feb 3, 2007 at 8:00 am
I think the Board owes an apology to the people whose money they took, and at least to refund the money that wasn't spent.
Yes, the money was given with "no strings attached", but frankly it is like being given a very expensive "no strings attached" present...the assumption is that if you accept it, there is some degree of reciprocal emotion attached to the acceptance.
I believe that taking donations, anonymous or not, in order to decide whether or not a new program ( or decide which new books, or which computer vendor..you get the idea) should come into the district is unethical, or at the very least opens the door to unintended unethical tones, and should not be done.
This is different from taking private, even anonymous,donations to fund something which has already been decided without any financial influence.
Say the district goes through the next year, then decides to implement Mandarin throughout elementary schools ( just making a story here)...Then picks the curriculum and the equipment on the basis of what is needed for whatever program they choose.
THEN it calls for donations to help pay for the already chosen schoolbooks for all the kids, or for already chosen computer language CDs for kids to use in the library, or already chosen type of language lab at each school, or something like that.
This is different from taking money before any one of the decision steps, which can have an influence, even unintended, on decisions. Especially, and this is where the suspicions of anonymous donations comes in, if there are anonymous donations from a book publisher, and then we end up choosing the book published by that publisher.
Maybe this was the way the District decided to proceed on this MI case, but that doesn't make it right.
Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2007 at 11:58 am
The rules on anonymous donations is not Grace's responsibility, and it is silly to suggest after the fact that she should now reveal names.
It is up to the district to set a policy, and they have failed to do it. I am in favor of transparency throughout the district, and that should extend to revealing the names of donors for a feasibility study. There should be no anonymous donations whatsoever to the district. In this way, we could avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
The board should get its act together: we need clean government.
Posted by Daunna, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2007 at 12:10 pm
I don't think anyone can feel good about the way the finances were handled.
I've lived and traveled in countries where the only way anyone could get thiings done was to pay the price. Gates opened with money, stayed closed without. That's kind of how this process felt--except that it was done very publicly, the money didn't go to line any individual's pocket, and the money did fund educational research of a sort. Playing by the rules doesn't mean you have to like them.
Although the new rules for evaluating the merits of a proposed alternative program do not call for a feasibility study, that's what the administration said it would need to do before it could recommend for or against Mandarin Immersion. Some of that work/travel was quite necessary, but I was surprised at how much reinventing of the wheel was done. But what choice do parents have if they want choice?
There were a lot of differences between the situation in 1995 with Spanish Immersion and the way things are now under the new policies. Some of the changes are very good, but the policy was designed for the district to respond to a proposal's potential within a short time, without huge investments of staff time. The district needs to find a way to do limited analysis to determine educational merit, and then let the program go forward as a pilot. The concept of SI was understood when it was approved, but the implementation and start-up were unplanned. That was badly done. MI, in contrast, is been overstudied and overplanned--all without a go-ahead. There needs to be a happy medium--and a cheaper price tag to move forward from the board.
Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2007 at 12:23 pm
Agreed. MI played by the rules set out by the district. The district needs to change the rules to make the process transparent.
And the district should have a more straight-forward policy on choice programs. If they don't want them, they should just say so. As an onlooker, I thought they treated you shabbily: they asked you to jump through hoops; you did, and they still said no.
Is this a way to run a school district??? Sooo much time wasted by everyone, and the board is to blame.
Posted by Andrea, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2007 at 10:37 am
Grace has been quoted in all the local papers lamenting the fact that PACE has no other choice but to petition for a charter school now that PAUSD has made the decision that MI is not going to be a new choice program at this time. She also claims that PACE means no harm to the district.
I have an interesting suggestion for Grace. How about taking your amazing talents, tenacity, committment, support system and turning them towards Sacramento. I'm specifically speaking of working to help change legislation regarding charter schools and how they may have negative impact on basic aid distircts in certain situations. Once you have helped make those changes to the charter school laws, then you can bring a charter school petition to the district with the certainty of knowing that PACE will be doing no harm. It may mean a sacrifice to your timetable, but I am suggesting that you do indeed have another choice about where to go from here.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2007 at 12:01 pm
A large chunk of Escondido is SI. The immersion effect should pull up the scores by your reasoning. Instead what you get is a drop in the 2/3 grades and some catching up around 5th grade. That's according to Escondido's principal.
The immersion effect is knowledge of a second language, the rest of the benefits are a bit more iffy. There doesn't seem to be a good study on the effects of immersion programs on writing in English.
Posted by Immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2007 at 8:21 pm
"The immersion effect should pull up the scores by your reasoning. Instead what you get is a drop in the 2/3 grades and some catching up around 5th grade. That's according to Escondido's principal. The immersion effect is knowledge of a second language, the rest of the benefits are a bit more iffy."
No, sorry, this is just guesswork by you with no basis in reality.
There are many studies with statistical data showing that immersion raises math and English scores by the end of elementary.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007 at 11:02 am
Immersion parent - do you deny what OhlonePar actually said - that scores are first lower in around grades 2 and 3, with catchup occuring toward 5th and 6th? If you are denying this - you may want to refer to previous posts by Grace Mah where she discusses the well known 'second grade panic' effect in immersion programs, where parents need to be encouraged to stick it out because students are behind.
Are you telling us that you have statistics to show that ENGLISH speakers do better in ENGLISH when taught in MANDARIN?
Please provide those.
I believe in fact you will point us to the Lindholm Leary links that show that ESL (Non English Speaking) students do better academically in all subjects when taught in their home language and in English. Those slides are primarily about Spanish Immersion. But not only that, Lindhold Leary being a single source, AND a vocal proponent of MI programs (in fact the only source that is ever provided as evidence on this subject), can not be considered a credible source. Do you have any unbiased sources?
Posted by Immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007 at 11:38 am
"Are you telling us that you have statistics to show that ENGLISH speakers do better in ENGLISH when taught in MANDARIN?"
"Please provide those."
"I believe in fact you will point us to the Lindholm Leary links that show that ESL (Non English Speaking) students do better academically in all subjects when taught in their home language and in English. Those slides are primarily about Spanish Immersion."
No, I will point you to Linholm-Leary data showing native ENGLISH speakers and NON-NATIVE English speakers in MANDARIN immersion match or outperform their district peers in English and math.
"Do you have any unbiased sources?"
Lindholm-Leary. If a nutritional researcher told you you to eat your vegetables, would you discount his research because he based his advice on it? Your concern about bias is irrational. LL's research has been published in peer-reviewed journals. It's unassailable.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007 at 12:46 pm
1. You just inserted two caveats - changes to your original assertion:
a. "match or" Matching is different than outperforming as in your original statement
b. "their district peers". To give any weight or value to this statement we must be provided with the quality of the performance of the district. Its no big accomplishment to have a bunch of kids from a poor performing district match their district peers when given special attention. In fact, its no accomplishment at all to match an otherwise failing district.
People in PAUSD that are considering MI will be mislead if they think MI will 'match THEIR district peers' in performance.
The studies are done in districts with a high percentage of ELL students, meaning they are struggling districts and students to start with.
2) Please point us to the LL results specifically on MANDARIN, showing Native English speakers (Non-Mandarin speakers), outperforming their district peers in English.
PAUSD isn't even accomplishing this feat with its well established, well respected Spanish Immersion program.
Better yet, why don't you show us the test results from one of the sample schools used in the MI feasibility study?
Posted by immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007 at 2:42 pm
"a. "match or" Matching is different than outperforming as in your original statement"
Sorry, I meant "match or outperform."
"b. "their district peers". To give any weight or value to this statement we must be provided with the quality of the performance of the district. Its no big accomplishment to have a bunch of kids from a poor performing district match their district peers when given special attention. In fact, its no accomplishment at all to match an otherwise failing district."
No, the apples-to-apples comparison is district peers. In any case, one of the programs studied was CLIP, and Cupertino is hardly a failing district. In third grade English, the CLIP kids, both English speakers and Chinese speakers, scored higher than district averages and on par with PAUSD English-only kids. So, if everything remains equal, you can expect PAUSD MI kids to outperform PAUSD English-only kids in English.
"2) Please point us to the LL results specifically on MANDARIN, showing Native English speakers (Non-Mandarin speakers), outperforming their district peers in English."
See the slideshow prepared March 2006 on Chinese Immersion for PAUSD.
"PAUSD isn't even accomplishing this feat with its well established, well respected Spanish Immersion program."
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007 at 4:37 pm
Proof of SI performance - see Escondido's SIP presentation from 2006. Hard copies were handed out at the SIP board meetings last fall, I don't know if or where they are online. Probably have to go to the district to get a hard copy. That Escondido file has the following tables in the back:
CSTLEA (California Standar Test English Language Arts)
2nd 76% 72%
3rd 78% 60%
4th 88% 92%
5th 86% 84%
math results, a little closer...
Star Results CST Math
% Proficient and Advanced
2nd 100% 81%
3rd 63% 81%
4th 93% 88%
5th 92% 91%
As a prospective parent, do you feel comfortable in saying PAUSD's Spanish Immersion would give your child an OUTPERFORM result relative to PAUSD standard in English? (More likely a 'match' to slightly below average result) and same with Math. Note this is not a comparison to PAUSD overall, this is just a comparison to Escondido school. Escondido is not one of the higher performing schools.
Prospective MI parents might ask themseleves what this would look like compared to Hoover? or Duveneck?
But more importantly given that MANDARIN is 3-4 times harder language to learn, would you expect to get this result in a Mandarin Class run by PAUSD?
Would you expect to get this result in an independently run start up school district that was managed by ??? (not managed by PAUSD)?
(Charter law defines a charter as an independent school district.)
point b. 'one of the district studied was CLIP'. Funny, during the year long MI Choice debate, when repeatedly asked for CLIP performance results including demographic test scores, attrition and graduation rates, they were not provided. The feasibility study did not provide any performance statistics for any of the programs they used as comparisons.
Where are the Cupertino performance statistics? Web site? Or on file at the PAUSD district offices? Or LL published? Where are they?
The 'apples to apples' comparison to find out if a kid is doing better in immersion than his own district is apples to apples for that purpose only (that kid compared to that district). You can not say from that result that a kid will do better than the California average, or the PAUSD average, unless your study presented that data. It does not. It compares to kids in their own district. This is an exceedlingly low hurdle in districts that are failing or that have a high level of non-english speakers in the achivement gap.
MI prospective parents would do well to be wary of statements that say Immersion kids to better than their peers in their own district.
What MI prospective parents really NEED TO FEEL VERY COMFORTABLE WITH is whether their kids will do better in PACE MI Charter than they will in PAUSD.
If you want to use Cupertino's MI results as proof of how this charter will perform, then perhaps someone needs to show us the Cupertino specific statistics. And by the way, to support your claim, those statistics need to be broken out between Mandarin speakers and English speakers. They also need to be broken out between kids that entered the program from Kinder versus kids that entered later.
Because the Cupertino program tests for Mandarin Proficiency at Grade level to backfill attrition beyond first grade. Therefore, they are backfilling the program with 'proficient' students, and therefore invalidating their own test results.
They end up testing a program that has been backend loaded with kids that were proven to be proficient at grade level, then saying, our kids are all proficient at grade level. (Woopee)
Again, Prospective parents for the MI program should REQUIRE that the MI CHARTER people show you test results for kids that entered the program as Kindergartners for both english and mandarin speakers separately. Results will vary.
The PAUSD BOARD should likewise REQUIRE that the MI Charter Petitioners show all the data proving the educational soundness of this program. So far, no data has been shown.
Where can we find the slideshow for the March 2006 Chinese Immersion for PAUSD? I don't see a slideshow in the March 28 2006 board packet. (I see alot of detailed prose and financial statements in a 249 page board packet, but no slide show.)
"match or outperform". Yes, matching is quite different than outperforming. You said it again - that we can expect PAUSD Mandarin Immersion students to outperform PAUSD regular students in English. That's a wild claim that you can not and have not proven. Again, prospective parents should beware snake oil salesmen.
Clearly anyone who is believing the MI promise is a gambler (with their own kids education!)
Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007 at 5:33 pm
Once again, we are not differentiating between written English and reading English. Reading comes in two categories. One is reading aloud to an audience. Second is reading non fiction text to educate oneself. Very different animals. Writing English is much harder to test, particularly by "bubbling in" on multiple choice questions. Can these students write a sensible paragraph on an academic subject. I very much doubt that seeing what we are getting out of the average high school student in this age of texting and I M. I would like to see scores in how students test in written English on an academic subject which they have learnt through a second language. e.g. a grade level written report (not picturegraph) of one or two paragraphs about the California missions, or the water cycle, or some other curriculum related topic that they learn in their second language. Then I will believe they learn English better than their non immersion peers.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2007 at 6:37 pm
I think Parent's pretty much said most of it.
Just a couple of things--"no basis in reality". Nope, I heard it from Escondido's principal when I was checking out choice programs. Are you saying that the principal Escondido doesn't know about his school's own test scores?
Second, it's not guesswork, it's information I've acquired since looking into the MI proposal. I began thinking about the English-writing issue because a parent of a kid who'd been through SI mentioned that there was a negative effect on English composition. I then noticed that writing in English seemed to be one of those things that isn't actually tracked. Or at least no one on the pro-immersion side seems to know anything about it. At one point, my quest for information led to a pro-MI poster telling others not to listen to me since I was there sowing doubts. Personally, I don't see education as a question of faith . . .
Writing English is not particularly easy. It's a language with a larger vocabulary and more verbs than any other. Idiom is not obvious. The connotations of words are often subtle. It's not hard to spot an ESL writer, even when they're quite fluent in spoken English.
Look, there are some benefits to studying a second language--learning another grammer gives insight re: one's own--that would help writing in one's first language. However, the notion that MI makes one a better writer in English is akin to arguing that learning french horn makes one a better pianist than someone who's been studying piano.
Posted by Immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 9:20 am
SI performance: you need to provide stats comparing SI kids to their district peers.
"The 'apples to apples' comparison to find out if a kid is doing better in immersion than his own district is apples to apples for that purpose only (that kid compared to that district). You can not say from that result that a kid will do better than the California average, or the PAUSD average, unless your study presented that data."
The study did. Slide for English language arts in fifth grade: CLIP students "slightly surpass achievement of English speakers in PAUSD." [Slideshow: Kathryn Lindholm-Leary presentation PAUSD_ChinImmMar2006.pdf]
Backfill is not an issue: contrary to myth, CLIP doesn't have much attrition.
"You said it again - that we can expect PAUSD Mandarin Immersion students to outperform PAUSD regular students in English. That's a wild claim that you can not and have not proven. Again, prospective parents should beware snake oil salesmen."
See above for conclusive proof.
With enough time, it is possible to think up wacky challenges to the study as Another Parent has done. Maybe their reading is good but their writing is not. (Of course, maybe their writing is better by an even greater degree.) Maybe their handwriting suffers. Maybe they have poor personal hygiene. But unless we rely on uninformed speculation, we have to conclude that MI can turn out kids whose English skills are better than their district peers.
There is a great deal of similar research on many programs in various languages. All of them show that OhlonePar's claim ("The immersion effect is knowledge of a second language, the rest of the benefits are a bit more iffy.") has no basis in reality and is nothing but guesswork. The immersion effect is: better English and math scores.
It is curious to me why there is so much skepticism (admittedly from a limited group) about hard data. Obviously, the conclusion does not fit with your view of the way children learn. I would guess that it is comforting to think that one is making a trade-off for one's own children: forgoing immersion but gaining better English skills. I would guess it is threatening to think that there is no trade-off for immersion kids, that they learn to read and write another language AND their English and math are better, too.
Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 9:30 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Writing skills in English is one of the most important reasons we send our children to school. Yes math and science are very important, but neither compare to the ability of writing the most important language worldwide. If a person has the ability to speak a foreign language, has a perfect SAT score in math, but cannot write a sensible college application essay in their mother tongue, where is it going to get them. To go further, if they cannot write a letter to a prospective employer, write a report on a business project or write a personal recommendation about someone who has requested a reference, they are going to be at a disadvantage for the whole of their lives. Writing English cannot be lumped into a test of multiple choice English language arts. To say that the data says differently may be true, but not prudent.
I would certainly want more than this if it was my child's future I was gambling with.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 12:27 pm
Immersion Parent - you still did not provide a link to the LL presentation, so I can't read it, just taking your word for it. But if they presented a slide set in March 2006 about 5th grade results, they must have been presenting 5th grade results from a prior year? Kids in 5th in 2005? or 2004? or 2003?
Lets work our way down each year, using the actual Cupertino MI 11th Day enrollment stats...
2003 kids in 5th grade started the program as second graders in 2000. There were 19 that started in that strand as second graders, and by 2003, 6 kids remained in total. So six driven kids scored better than the PAUSD average. How many were Mandarin proficient to start with? High likelihood that all were proficient Mandarin speakers at entrance, because the Cupertino program tests for kids to be proficient at grade level in both languages for entering after Kindergarten (see their website). So far, not very convincing.
2004 kids in 5th grade started the program as first graders in 2000. There were 19 that started in that strand, and 18 remained into 5th grade by 2004 (not bad - looks better.) But again, they started as first graders, so probably a higher likelihood that they started as Mandarin proficient. Still 18 kids tested better than PAUSD average. Looks like an imporvment trend, right? Wrong...
2005 kids in 5th grade started the program as Kindergarteners in 2000. This strand started with 28 kindergarteners in 2000. Let’s assume 50/50 mandarin/English speakers as would be the MI conceptual starting point. So 14 Mandarin, 14 English. Then they loaded this strand up to 39 kids by the time this strand entered the 3rd grade, so they loaded the strand with 11 more TESTED Mandarin proficient speakers. They're up to 25 Mandarin proficient, with 11 of those tested for proficiency at entrance. So the program is at this point is 65% loaded with ringers. They end at 34 (By the way, they lose 5 between 3rd and entering 5th. , that's 12% attrition.)
So you are now teaching a class of primarily Mandarin speakers in Mandarin.
And you then test a 5th grade class that's been loaded at 3rd grade, with kids tested as proficient by 3rd grade, and find that they are proficient.
And just in case they were talking about the 5th graders in 2006, that class has even worse results. They started in 2001 Kindergarten with 25, they loaded up to 40 by third grade (proficiency tested), and they ended with 31. They lost 9 ... 25% attrition from 2nd to 5th! And they loaded the strand up to 70% Mandarin/Proficient by 3rd grade and then tout their 5th grade test results. (13+15 = 28, 28/40 = 70%)
And you and LL are using these 5th grade testing results to claim that the MI program is successful not only for native Mandarin speakers, but for students of any language??? They load the program with proficient students in 3rd grade, then test them for proficiency, and they find them to be proficient??? That's a huge surprise? And this is meant to prove to us that the Cupertino MI 5th graders are getting better results than the PAUSD average?
(And keep in mind – the predominance of the kids in this program are likely going to be the highest performers, most driven for differentiation by their parents – so the Cream of the Crop is doing just about ‘average’ by PAUSD standards. I’m impressed.)
And did the program teach them to speak Mandarin? Or just teach Mandarin speakers in Mandarin?
And you are also claiming the program has low attrition? 68%, 5%, 12%, 25% leave the program between 2/3rd and 5th.
Did LL presentation disclose all this stuff? If not, this proves the point that the LL presentations are biased. If she did, did immersion parent just fail to mention all this fine print?
WHY? What’s immersion parents motive for skewing her message?
It’s intellectually dishonest to claim this program works as you say it does. I have no doubt the program teaches mandarin speakers in Mandarin effectively. It has not proven even remotely that it teaches anyone else effectively.
The thing is - we can't and won't convince immersion parent and the MI charter supporters, and we don't have to. They are fanatics that have moved out of the realm of what's real, into the realm of obsession. They will not be swayed by holes in their reasoning, or holes in their data. They want,what they want, when they want it, - it’s in their gut, not in their head.
The question is - will immersion parent and her charter school convince the average PAUSD parent that she has something REAL to offer????
Not with these statistics (not if they present the real facts).
The real PAUSD parent (in this dimension), is faced with a very simple choice - the reality of the proven quality and competitive PAUSD results, or the empty unproven promises (backed by feather weight, biased, non-evidence) of the PACE MI Charter.
And they're going to look their kid in the eye on the first day of school, and make that very real choice.
I think immersion parent has her work cut out for her.
I’m still really fascinated by the fact that obviously competitive, driven persons such as those driving the PACE MI Charter would actually put their kid in this program which will give their kid at best a great fighting chance achieving average results.
Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 12:58 pm
As an interesting side note to this discussion, a local parent recently sent this message about the Mandarin Immersion program at the International School of the Peninsula to the Palo Alto / Menlo Park parents' club:
“We are considering sending our child to ISTP nursey
Chinese program. One of the major concern is the drop
out rate of the chinese program is high. We are
hoping to be in ISTP for long term. By the time, the
child get to grade 3, the class is so small. For
parents who did send your child to ISTP, why did you
pull your child out of the school and what grade did
you pull your child? Did your child be able to
maintain chinese language after you pull the child out
of ISTP? For parents who still have the child in
ISTP, are you happy with the upper grade level school?”
The parents who replied (there weren't many but most agreed there was such a problem) said they’d dropped out because the environment was overly academic / stressful, because they had a hard time keeping up the language at home and because they wanted their children to be involved in sports at a larger school.
I didn’t know the International School of the Peninsula had this problem. I think ISTP’s enrolment issues are relevant because it serves parents who, presumably, are highly motivated to have their child’s MI schooling be a success (they’re paying for it, after all). But many are not finding it worth the money.
Does any one else know more about the retention problems of MI at ISTP?
If retention is a serious issue even here, I think this makes it all the more important that supporters of MI share figures for comparison programs that reveal the numbers (and achievement profiles) of students entering with no Mandarin who make it all the way through the program versus those who come into it already fluent either initially or as backfill at later grade levels.
It also raises serious questions about demand for MI – which I had always assumed would be higher than the supply of places. Maybe that wouldn’t be the case.
Posted by immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 3:25 pm
"And you and LL are using these 5th grade testing results to claim that the MI program is successful not only for native Mandarin speakers, but for students of any language??? They load the program with proficient students in 3rd grade, then test them for proficiency, and they find them to be proficient??? That's a huge surprise? And this is meant to prove to us that the Cupertino MI 5th graders are getting better results than the PAUSD average?"
Your conclusions depend on fabricated numbers (you don't know what the initial mix was in any of these cases), but in any case your reasoning does not hang together. Crucially, you assume that testing kids for Mandarin proficiency weeds out kids who are not good at English.
"And you are also claiming the program has low attrition? 68%, 5%, 12%, 25% leave the program between 2/3rd and 5th."
The most recent attrition was 4% per year, a figure well below PAUSD levels.
No amount of hard data would convince you because you believe in a non-immersion religion. Fortunately for PACE, this is not an issue. Most people do not share your faith and buy the immersion concept. The board and the district were convinced of the program's efficacy, even if they shot it down for narrow political reasons.
CLIP kids, whether English speakers or Mandarin speakers, get top scores in English and math, in particular outperforming PAUSD native English speakers. I guess by your lights pausd is a gamble.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 4:07 pm
No, testing kids for Mandarin, means that when you enter them in a class taught 50-80% in Mandarin language that they'll understand what's going on, and be able to achieve academically whatever they're taught.
Whereas kids who speak only ENGLISH, will not be able to pick up as much and struggle more to both pick up Mandarin and keep up in English. Which is why Cupertino actually tests for Mandarin proficiency above Kindergarten - because they know otherwise kids would not be able to keep up with the demands of that class.
That's a fact. If you doubt the difficulty of achieving in a classroom where the language is not first language, take a look at the achievement gap for ELL kids in English classrooms. They struggle.
You cut the attrition numbers in a way that suits your argument, but the fact is, there is another valid mathematical way to look at the attrition - and that is, what happens to a single strand between 3rd and 5th grade? After they load the strand to their highest points in 2nd and 3rd grade, the strand proceeds to lose high numbers of kids.
Do the original kids continue to leave, replaced by the new kids, or do the kids that join late find it too hard? In either case, the program has a retentino issue between 3rd - 5th. The parents that are unhappy with the results pull their kids into normal programs, leaving the best performers, and thereby further loading 5th grade results.
And you're still only 'average' relative to PAUSD. PAUSD doesn't have the luxury of weeding out the low performers, their average counts it all.
The proof is in the pudding. So you take smart and motivated kids and put them in the program, and spend 5 years weeding and sorting out kids based on their results and outcomes, and at the end say, look at all these wonderful results we've baked. (Cooked up is right.)
The parents that will be entering better hope they are in the 'right' category. How they'll know that? Anyone's guess, because their not getting the straight scoop from LL, PACE or CLIP, but I assume they'll figure out that Mandarin language proficiency is a good indicator.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 4:43 pm
What I can't comprehend is why people are still slugging off on this. MI was supposed to be a choice program, so those who didn't like it didn't need to apply -- nobody was forcing it on anyone who chose to disbelieve the evidence. Same applies to the possible charter -- don't apply if you don't like it.
Having reasoned discussion is always good, but this thread is anything but reasoned. For those who are google-impaired, here are the 2 top links which describe anything and everything about Lindholm-Leary work.
Posted by immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 4:46 pm
"No, testing kids for Mandarin, means that when you enter them in a class taught 50-80% in Mandarin language that they'll understand what's going on, and be able to achieve academically whatever they're taught."
If testing for Mandarin proficiency selected for kids with good English--as you suggest--then China would be populated by people with good English. Your theory makes no sense.
"So you take smart and motivated kids and put them in the program, and spend 5 years weeding and sorting out kids based on their results and outcomes, and at the end say, look at all these wonderful results we've baked."
For all you know, CLIP took the dumb demotivated kids and put them in the program and spent 5 years weeding and sorting out the kids with the best outcomes, and despite all that got wonderful results. You've concocted a fantasy scenario.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 6:40 pm
How is thinking that proficiency in writing English requires writing in English illogical? Be specific.
Wolf and Immersion Parent,
Can you provide a link to a specific study that deals with the written English skills of MI students? I've asked about this before--and neither of Wolf's links provides that kind of information.
I see you backed off re: Escondido's SI score issue.
This has been discussed before, but it comes down to this. MI supporters link to Lindholm-Leary's Web site. Lindholm-Leary has been active in the PAUSD MI debate. My request for info. not from Lindholm-Leary that supports the MIers POV don't come up with much, though SkepticAL gave me a link to something that my lame-o computer couldn't handle--I don't think it was MI specific though.
LL study of CLIP was a limited snapshot. And, again, the unanswered question is if immersion is so amazing how come both Meyerholtz (CLIP) and Escondido (SI) are nowhere near the top of their school districts. Escondido's in the bottom quarter, Meyerholtz in the bottom half. Why is the Asian/White gap at Meyerholtz so huge. So far the only answer I've gotten on that one is that the white kids have single moms, which amuses me in a sick way since it reminds me of the way we blame the white/black achievement gap on single moms.
Maybe everything can be explained and MI is a miracle drug, but the lack of solid answers makes me dubious.
As I've said elsewhere, I'm not a fan of direct instruction, but in terms of scores, it works--the DI soar past the others consistently. We're not seeing that with immersion.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 7:43 pm
The SI program at Escondido has a waiting list - but the SI program at Jordan Middle school is far from full, although many Jordan students choose to take a language. Why is that - do the kids get to middle school are realize they are behind their peers?
Posted by immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2007 at 8:14 pm
"How is thinking that proficiency in writing English requires writing in English illogical? Be specific."
You've lost the plot completely here.
"I see you backed off re: Escondido's SI score issue."
No, as I said you need to provide an apples-to-apples comparison.
"My request for info. not from Lindholm-Leary that supports the MIers POV don't come up with much"
"LL study of CLIP was a limited snapshot. And, again, the unanswered question is if immersion is so amazing how come both Meyerholtz (CLIP) and Escondido (SI) are nowhere near the top of their school districts."
SI=not Escondido; CLIP=not Meyerholtz.
"Why is the Asian/White gap at Meyerholtz so huge."
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2007 at 12:04 am
You claimed my comment about SI's lower 2/3 scores "had no basis in reality", when, in fact, the basis was the principal of Escondido.
LL is cited as "proof" of all sorts of claims about the wonders of MI, but the evidence does not prove many of the claims made. Yes, it would be nice if LL's data was, in fact, more relevant and filled in some missing holes.
SI is at Escondido, CLIP is at Meyerholtz. Both populations are large enough (particularly SI) to affect overall scores. Once again, the principal of Escondido has said there's a 2/3 score drop within SI.
Hmmm, yes, the gap at Meyerholtz "beats you". In other words, it could indeed be an MI effect, but you don't have any idea whether that's the case or not.
Which has really been my point about MI all along--lots and lots of unanswered questions and lots of defensiveness and, frankly, ad hoc swipes when pressed. You're not arguing, you're pronouncing.
When you find *something* about the effect of MI on English composition for native English speakers, let me know. Or at least why it's not being assessed if it's not being assessed.
How will learning everything in a second language affect my child’s English language and literacy development?
Many parents are initially fearful that immersion may have a negative impact on their child’s English language development. But research consistently finds that the immersion experience actually enhances English language development (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000). It should be noted that full immersion students’ English development may lag temporarily in reading, word knowledge, and spelling while instruction is occurring exclusively in the immersion language. However, after a year or two of instruction in English language arts, this discrepancy disappears (Genesee, 1987). It is important for parents to understand that this lag is temporary and to be expected.
In full immersion programs, children develop initial literacy in the immersion language. Many cognitive processes that underlie the ability to read, such as understanding the relationship between the spoken language and the written word, transfer from one language to another (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000). But when the immersion language differs significantly from English (e.g., languages that don’t use our alphabet) literacy skills developed in one language will not necessarily transfer to the other language. Immersion students who learn to read first in a language that is markedly different from English, such as Arabic or Japanese, will need to learn and practice literacy skills that are specific to each language (Kanagy, 2001).
It is assumed that immersion students will have consistent exposure to and support for English at home and in the community. Parents need to provide their children with experiences that will enhance their English language and literacy development. For example, they should read to their children every day and involve them in games and activities that complement their classroom learning. Research shows that the stronger the development of the native language, the greater the proficiency in the immersion language, so children who enter an immersion program with a strong base in English will succeed more easily than those whose English skills are not as strong
In other words, Mandarin Immersion DOES NOT help writing in English. It hinders it and parents have to compensate for this lack. And, yes, the affect of immersion in a European language is different than immersion in a more differentiated language.
Furthermore, if the parents aren't highly fluent in English, the child's skills in both languages suffers. (Wasn't expecting that, frankly. Interesting.)
Now, frankly, if the PAUSD makes sure it's not financially hit by an MI charter, I'm okay with it. But, wow--English comp. matters outside anything that's not purely tech.
I'd love to see some research on hybrid short-term immersion/traditional language instruction.
Posted by immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2007 at 8:50 am
"You claimed my comment about SI's lower 2/3 scores "had no basis in reality", when, in fact, the basis was the principal of Escondido."
No, I said your comment that the benefits of immersion are "iffy" had no basis in reality. Never denied there is a TEMPORARY lag in scores; it is a well-known effect in immersion circles.
"In other words, Mandarin Immersion DOES NOT help writing in English."
No, you didn't read carefully. It says the reading skills "may not transfer" for some languages. A moot point, since we have statistical data showing that in the case of Mandarin, we do see exactly this effect.
"It hinders it and parents have to compensate for this lack."
No, you didn't read carefully. It doesn't say anything remotely like this. It does say that immersion parents--does not specify a language--should read to their kids.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2007 at 11:22 am
Immersion parent keeps telling us WE have to prove that MI doesn't work.
Funny, when I go in to a used car lot, I don't usually have to prove to the salesmen that the cars don't work.
The burden of proof sits squarely on the salesman.
Has anybody been satisfied with their excuses and arguing and avoidance of actually offering up proof?
They argue with the assumptions about how many Mandarin vs English speakers were actually served by Cupertino - those were reasonable assumptions - yet do they actually offer anything up to prove the reality of how its working. Not a bit.
So, again, parents looking to sign up..
BUYER BEWARE - The burden of proof (according to immersin parent) is NOW ON YOU.
So take a look at the proven results - hard evidence - coming out of PAUSD, and take a read through PACE MI Charters unsubstatiated claims and immersion parent's opinion work, and you make the decision about where you're going to send your kids.
(Immersino Parent - you don't have to prove it to Ohlone Parent - I can guarantee you, she's not showing up. Its everyone else you're going to have to prove it to. Or you can stand by your position that your CUSTOMER's need to prove it to you. Good luck with that.
Posted by Immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2007 at 5:20 pm
"Immersino Parent - you don't have to prove it to Ohlone Parent - I can guarantee you, she's not showing up."
Exactly, neither Ohlonepar nor you will show up; you are you interested in the proven educational benefits of immersion. The case has been well made by many researchers, and people around the country and across the world are convinced. You are not. That's ok.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2007 at 9:31 pm
Clearly, if "literacy skills" may not transfer (and this is on a pro-immersion site), then the benefits are iffy. Also, the same site mentions that the various cognitive advantages that supposedly translate into those good math/reading scores only occur after strong proficiency may be obtained.
Now, speaking of reading, you're having a bit of trouble. Please note, the cite says "literacy" not "reading" skills as you claim, Immersion. Literacy includes reading and writing. This is followed by an admonition that the parents will have give extra time to literacy skills. "May not" is a far cry from the oft-heard claim that MI results in higher or even test scores. It doesn't take much to read between the lines here--your kids will NOT get adequate instruction in English through an immersion program. You will have to supplement.
None of the MI supporters here has ever said anything like that. The claim has pretty much been that English literacy takes care of itself.
And, of course, the cite specific mentions languages that do not share an alphabet with English--yes, that certainly includes Mandarin--as having this issue.
Do you really not know the meaning of the word "literacy"? It would seem so.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2007 at 10:05 pm
Actually, I've taken immersion language and I attended SI meetings. I would love to see summertime immersion programs at the elementary school level.
What I don't like is diverting district space and funds for a small specialty program.
That the claims of MI supporters tend crumple and diminish under any kind of scrutiny is a bit besides the point to me, but sort of entertaining.
However, if I *were* considering MI, I'd be concerned about the lack of hard data behind PACE's claims. There's no one perfect education, there are always trade-offs. Parents should have a realistic sense of what will happen and then make an informed choice. I mean saying that MI results in equal or better reading scores is *very* different than saying that English literacy skills need to be supplemented at home.
Now, I can see a parent saying, yeah, Mandarin's worth it. But she or he should know that ahead of time.
Posted by immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 10, 2007 at 10:25 pm
It's good to see you've backed off the special claims about Mandarin and now are skeptical about all immersion. Of course, the downside is that you're swimming upstream against an even deeper river of data.
"doesn't take much to read between the lines here--your kids will NOT get adequate instruction in English through an immersion program. You will have to supplement."
Again, you seem to be having a reading comprehension problem. It does not say they will not get adequate instruction or that you will have to supplement.
It does say that immersion parents should--no matter what the target language--"read to their children every day." This does not go beyond what any elementary school teacher will tell you about non-immersion kids.
Again, the site makes a general disclaimer (literacy may not be additive for deeply different languages), but fortunately we have sound research to show that speculation is incorrect.
We know that MI boosts English and math proficiency beyond what English-only kids achieve.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2007 at 4:00 am
Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, is it? You have a pro-immersion site that notes that literacy skills from a language like Mandarin "may not translate" into English literacy. Why do you think they wrote that? Why do you think they suggested supplementing at home? They don't say that about math. They say it specifically about literacy in English.
If the skills don't carry over, then the kids aren't getting what they need in English *unless* it's provided outside the classroom--thus the comment about needing to supplement.
The comments were not "speculative", per se, but in response to a study cited that showed there was an issue with literacy skills in highly differentiated languages translating over to English.
You don't have stats to back up your claim. The CLIP stuff is short-term and didn't deal with writing. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by immersion parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2007 at 9:50 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
You don't seem to understand "may not." It indicates, in this case, a lack of information. Fortunately, we have statistics from other sources showing that MI does boost English and math proficiency beyond what English only kids achieve.
You also seem very fuzzy about statistics. In this case, they are not a guarantee that each MI kid will do better than all his peers. They mean that the kids, on average, out-achieve their peers. I agree that Einstein might have been even greater if he'd been immersed in another language at a young age, but even without it he would have understood the statistical claims made here.
Again, you *misread* the comment about supplementing. It does not say that you need to supplement English skills at home in the case of Mandarin and other languages greatly different from English. It does suggest that you read to your children, but that is no different from non-immersion programs.
Posted by Bridge for Sale, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2007 at 1:22 pm
And we come full circle - where ARE your statistics from other sources? A single study, by a single studier who promotes one side of the argument (LL), isn't statistically significant, in fact, its starting to look like it hardly even hold water.
You say they exist - If you had them, you'd be falling over backward right now to show us all this data from Cupertino, San Francisco, Oregon, and all these other places the staff spent $66K studying, to prove us all wrong. So where is it?
If you're going to sell something to hundreds of people (who have a really really good option otherwise in PAUSD), your going to have to come up with something convincing.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
And here's another relevent statistic we'll never see - how much time and $ do parents of Mandarin Immersion students spend on supplemental private education? Why relevent? Is the program going to be socio-economically available for all? Or is this a program for the elite few?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 11, 2007 at 7:05 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Skills "not translating" and the advice to not just read to, but practice English skills with your kids are red flags.
You have one short study that doesn't assess writing skills to support your claim from a source with a stake in Palo Alto. It tells us nothing and can tell us nothing about the long-term effects. And yet you insist that there can be no negatives from MI. Fact is, you DON'T know.