Report: Dual Immersion leaves students behind | May 18, 2018 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - May 18, 2018

Report: Dual Immersion leaves students behind

English learners don't appear to benefit from dual-language program in the long run

by Kevin Forestieri

Dual-language education programs have a strong track record of improving test scores and being an effective tool for narrowing the achievement gap, with the added benefit of bilingual fluency in an increasingly diverse world.

This story contains 1380 words.

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Email Kevin Forestieri at [email protected]


Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on May 19, 2018 at 10:49 am

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

Few cities across the nation have the mix of at-risk students and affluent students in the same school community, and the district needs to strive to serve everyone. It's very possible that Mistral/DI took on too much in trying to both bring Spanish fluency to non-Spanish speakers, as well as aim to reduce the achievement gap among at-risk Spanish speakers.

Yet, there are many ways to reduce the achievement gap, including students enrolling in non-immersion schools or augmentation via after school and summer enrichment. But there is no alternatively reliable way to make non-native speakers fluent other than early full immersion. PAUSD does full early immersion as we currently do, their new immersion principal happens to be Mistral's old principal.

In a global city at the head of the world's economy, we need more programs to bring full fluency to non-native speakers, not less. We would be better served offering more full immersion opportunities, whether it be Chinese along with Spanish, not less.

On the moral imperative of preparing at-risk children for the future, serious treatment of computer science as a core literacy equal to (not more or less than) English and other traditional subjects is key. At risk students don't start CS (science in general) at a deficit relative to their peers, and it's a major confidence builder that will have applied positive impacts across their learning.

Posted by Upset DI Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2018 at 12:18 pm

There goes Dr. Rudolph again throwing an entire school under the bus! I'd really like to know what management school of thought he subscribes to? His actions and decisions are just truly mind boggling! What a disgraceful way to treat and demoralize a staff following his disgraceful treatment of many of our principals. The only thing he seems to be good at is hiring consultants to study our communities and tell us how badly we are doing. Yet after three years he himself has produced no results, only problems and screw ups topped by the Teach to One fiasco. His rapport with the community is non-existent. I for one have lost my patience with this man and the incompetence.

Our DI teachers and parents were totally blindsided and upset by this article which mixes fact with fiction and confuses cause with effect over the ten years of data it looked at. And this came after a supposed board retreat with parent input to make the DI program better and expand it to middle school! But now it appears as nothing but an excuse to dial back DI to a 50/50 model. It appears to have been in the works for quite some time through deliberate deception and guile. And it will now be led by a principal with zero experience who was hired directly out of Rudolph's former district (just like the principal just appointed to Slater---any one notice a disturbing pattern here?). In the meantime we have lost one of the most highly-qualified principals with DI experience and vision to Palo Alto!?!

From talking to our teachers, what's ironic is that if you read the article carefully you will understand that the low performance tracked looked at middle and high school English Learners from former DI class cohorts over ten years. The vast majority of the composite data was from BEFORE Mistral even became a completely separate school! In fact, there's even more irony given Rudolph's very own right hand toughie, Chief Human Capital Officer Carmen Ghysels, was the principal at the time the cohort of students data looked at would have performed so terribly! Many of the teachers from the time have left. And the same applies to class cohorts led by the very highly respected Dr. Judy Crates! Even though we are a completely different school barely three years old, it appears we are clearly in the cross hairs for elimination by Rudolph and the Board. Even more ironic is that these cohorts belong squarely under the Board leadership of Chiang and Nelson and Wheeler as well! So they own the perceived failures just as much and the former teachers and principals who were responsible for the 10 years of cohorts studied!

Yet what does Dr. Rudolph do? He attempts to falsely equate the problem to teachers and strategies currently in practice in classrooms now at Mistral. And his experience and expertise in DI is nil! The fact is that there have been many changes made in the last three years to improve the current 90/10 model. He would know this if he had ever bothered to spend time at our campus and speaking with the community rather than attacking it and dismantling it peicemeal.

I strongly urge any one reading this to vote out the current board at the next election and push hard for a new superintendent who truly understands and cares about this community!

Posted by Incoming Kinder Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm

I am an incoming Mistral Kinder parent and I attended the Board retreat about the DI model. I would like to just clarify that 1) according to Dr Rudolph and Tabitha Miller (the new principal) there will be no changes to the DI model in the 2018-19 school year; 2) they covered examples of where 90/10 and 50/50 are each effective as they saw at the schools they visited. The school the incoming principal is from is moving TO 90/10 from 50/50. It’s premature to assume that decisions have already been made since the board and Dr Rudolph are very open about their lack of prior experience with DI and that their desire is to have MVWSD’s DI program be a model for other districts because outcomes for our students are strong.

It is also true that the Hanover study assessed Middle and High school students who were in the DI program before Mistral existed, so their outcomes may not be reflective of what currently happens at the school.

However, 3) something Mistral parents of English-speaking students should all be aware of and concerned with is that outcomes for current Mistral students who are ELLs is under intense scrutiny as ELL outcomes are also part of the district’s strategic plan. Not only are current Mistral ELLs not meeting standards in the CA 5-by-5 report or even when assessed in Spanish on the benchmark assessment, but the perception by the Spanish-speaking community may be that their kids won’t learn English at Mistral; in fact kids in upper grades have been pulled out and put into Castro because of that fear. The program will certainly be more challenged by failure to maintain a healthy cohort of native Spanish-speaking children (research on DI recommends >33% kids who speak the target language at home) due to parent fear than by tweaks to the model of instruction.

Overall this article is poorly written and click-baity and will serve to be more inflammatory than helpful in building a world-class DI program in Mountain View. Poorly done, MV Voice.

Posted by Crystal Ball
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 20, 2018 at 9:22 am

Mistral got roped in to make the request for A Middle School curriculum by some Board member to then have the rug pulled out from under them by the district does not sound like it could have a good outcome. Especially, to have it done through an article that sounds disrespectful to the teachers and 4 former admins. In general, this article was written unclearly which parallels the theme of how the D.O operates. It also disrespects the growth the school has been trying to achieve through new building and separation of 2 schools.

Posted by Kristen McGuire-Husky
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 20, 2018 at 9:47 pm

Bellow is the text of my full quote:

My main take away from the study session is that the district has been investigating best practices for dual immersion programs all over the country and would like to see which best practices they can incorporate into our program to improve outcomes for all students and close the achievement gap.

I am glad that they are looking to improve program and I hope that they can work collaboratively with the new principal, the school staff and the community to move our school forward. Like any other school, ours has strengths and weaknesses. I hope that they take the time to engage with the school staff and community before embarking on any major changes.

Posted by Too Many Cooks
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 21, 2018 at 6:56 am

All three of my children went through the DI program over the last 10 years with many current and former teachers and all of the principals. They all graduated with very a strong command of Spanish. I don't speak Spanish. All have or will take Spanish in High School. Two have taken the AP Spanish exam with 5s. Some of their EL cohorts have done the same. Not all, because it really comes down to parent involvement and prior education as well as prospects for attending university.

@Kristen McGuire-Husky

So now you know what happens when parents, who think they know everything, try to tell the superintendent, district office, principal and teachers, who are expected to know everything, what to do: a convoluted version and understanding of it comes out in the paper. Between the lines, however, is the real story.

Believe it or not, communication actually works that way. Sometimes your message, with its nuances, are not always received the way you intended it. And then you have a superintendent and new principal with no prior experience in their leadership roles, both from North Carolina, which BTW is not the same demographically as Silicon Valley, admitting they really don't know much about DI. Were the current principal and teachers invited to the board retreat? Not one of them was quoted in the article. If not, it certainly appears that their input does not count. And that is a capital crime in public education. A CAPITAL CRIME. If so the Board certainly missed the boat on solving any issues which suggests the Board is either afraid of the truth or hiding something or their true intentions.

@Crystal Ball

Yes, people talk and it's well known in the community that Board Member Jose Gutierrez has been playing blame games throughout the district. He spends many mornings and afternoons chatting it up in the hallways pitting parents against parents, parents against teachers, teachers against teachers, teachers against parents, teachers against the principal, parents against the principal, parents against the Superintendent, the Board against the parents and teachers and principal, the Superintendent against teachers and the principal, the Board against the superintendent, and so forth and so on. He has been aided by a substitute teacher who travels from classroom to classroom feeding him an uniformed version of reality. Both have fanciful ideas about eduction and a rather bizarre political agenda. The end result is a toxic broth that is destined to destroy the DI program unless something radical changes.

In truth, a 50/50 model may be exactly what the doctor orders to put everything back in its place. It may, however, be too late because a few DI teachers I have spoken to would like nothing more than to leave if that happens. As the article fails to mention, teaching DI is a voluntary position. They don't get paid extra to teach DI. As I understand it the BCLAD credential referred to in the article is a requirement but does not lock teachers into DI. Either way the superintendent needs to take charge of this mess, make amends with the entire community and put the ship back on course. It's just such a shame to see the program under attack this way due to this blame game rather that people working together.

I very much hope the DI Program succeeds. I have nothing but accolades for ALL the teachers and ALL the principals involved over the years. They are and will always be the best. Treat them wiith respect and professionally and you will be surprised with the results.

Posted by Crystal Ball
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 21, 2018 at 9:38 am

@Too Many Cooks
Thanks for coming out and saying it as it is. Sometimes well-meaning parents get over-involved or sucked into various hypes such as teacher moving grades or parents being used as pawns for a Board member's agenda, creating a Domino Effect. In this case, it could have eased the way for the arrival of the teacher/trainee principal from North Carolina and a variety of unclear conversations around the Dual Immersion model. Apparently, there is another arrival from North Carolina to Slater as well and maybe more waiting to happen for the right moment.

The Butterfly Effect in Play!

Posted by Kristen McGuire-Husky
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 21, 2018 at 10:52 am

@ Too Many Cooks

I do not claim to know what to do, nor do I state this in my quote. My public comments centered around laying out what I see, and not demanding a particular solution. Much of my extended family are teachers. Education is complicated and teachers are the real experts here not the parents, not the DO staff. I absolutely do not expect the district to relent to every parent demand. I only ask that they listen, we are in a democracy, the school board are our representatives in this system it is our duty as citizens to communicate openly with them.

I do know for a fact that the Mistral Staff was neither notified nor invited to the board study session. I was gobsmacked when I learned this. I agree, this was a huge mistake and one whose reasons I do not claim to understand. It reflects very poorly on the DO staff.

On the subject of My Gutierrez, I have not seen any of the things you claim to have witnessed. I would love to know where you are getting this information from because I have neither personally witnessed it, nor heard any rumor of this sort of behavior.

I would love to hear your perspective, feel free to reach out to me offline.

Posted by EL/non EL
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on May 21, 2018 at 2:37 pm

One of the things that I think gets overlooked with immersion programs is that the native-Spanish speaking students are gaining much more than proficiency in English when they attend a school like Mistral.

They are gaining proficiency in *academic Spanish* that goes well beyond what they might pick up at home informally. I can't speak for EL parents but for myself, I sent my English-speaking kid to Mistral being perfectly comfortable with the fact that his English skills may actually suffer for awhile as a result of learning two languages simultaneously.

It seems reasonable and expected that a child who is learning to be bilingual may lag in one of the languages at certain points. To me, that points toward continuing the program into middle school to really secure proficiency in both languages.

The school has set itself a very high bar. I would argue that the Mistral academics are more challenging than at any other school in the district. I'm comfortable with the school's approach and though I would be glad to see more done to support students who are lagging in one language or another, I see no reason to change the model or hold the school up as anything but a success.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 21, 2018 at 6:44 pm

The Spanish speaking students that have gone through DI have not been able to carry that forward to High School (with UC foreign language credit ) because, there was 'mainly' no organized followup in middle school. This means , the good academic Spanish they learned, did not get them out of high school Spanish!

The extremely large Academic Achievement GAP (White - Hispanic academic proficiency) that MVWSD is now nationally infamous for, has been greatly affected by the growing GMS Math GAP, and the most extreme (by the numbers) GAP at DI/Mistral. I did not beat on this in 2013-2016, I now wish I had.

This (IMO) is exactly the type of academic issue that Rudolph and Trustee Gutierrez should be 'pushing' to solve. Good for them! When I voted for their inclusion in the governance structure - that is what I was looking for.

I have no idea why this Board/Superintendent continues to follow the "odd definition of transparency" that Trustee Wheeler sells. I missed the first hour of this meeting - perhaps there was an explanation why teaching staff was not 'formally invited'? Totally reminds me how the middle school math teachers were not "formally invited" in TTO:Math selection, or nearest neighbors were not "formally invited" by postcard to those Board discussions.

You can't always get what you what you want! 'But by golly' (worst swear words you want to substitute) the community needs exemplary avoidance of OPACITY. The Board (majority) could have bravely voted to 'suspend or adjourn this entire meeting, until the staff has been invited'. Majority rules.

Posted by DI alumni parent
a resident of Castro City
on May 22, 2018 at 2:36 pm

Oh MV Voice, how easily you are led by the nose. The superintendent set a trap and you walked right in.

Do your research -- ELL students fared far worse before the DI program and ELL students in the DI program do better than their counterparts at other schools in the district.

The superintendent is busy trying to hire his out-of-state friends and force through a misguided gutting of one of the best things in the district -- the DI program that uses the time-tested and research-supported 90/10 model.

Don't be so gullible. This superintendent is just as bad as the last one, just in a different way.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 22, 2018 at 3:35 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

No matter how you structure such a program, some students inevitably will be "left behind". As Kristen McGuire-Husky correctly points out above, the district should study the success of various approaches to dual immersion education and implement the plan they consider to be best-suited for the greatest success of OUR students. But don't expect all students to be equally successful. That's unrealistic.

Posted by More Cooks Please
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 23, 2018 at 8:34 pm

More Cooks Please is a registered user.

This news article was poorly written and it largely propounds fake news.

Perhaps the most important thing to note about the Hanover research document, which informs the unfortunate title of this article, is that the data showing poorer performance among English learners in middle and high school compared to their matched peers WAS NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. It would be a huge mistake to make any larger generalizations about these findings.

Further, a September 2016 report (also produced by Hanover research for our district), states quite clearly that DI programs must be evaluated using "student self-assessment, high school graduation rates, and college enrollment rates" in addition to student grades and test scores. These latter forms of tracking sadly were not used in the Jan 2017 "longitudinal" report, thereby, further weakening any of its evaluative claims about DI in our district.

It should also be noted that the inconsistent results from the Hanover document, if anything, support the conclusion that our district should expand DI into middle school, which is crucial for deepening and retaining the linguistic and academic gains introduced by bilingualism and bi-literacy.

While the outcomes of our English learners is a major concern that we should all take seriously and strive to improve, I think we should loudly reiterate that the “longitudinal” data presented to the DO are neither predictive nor reflective of what is happening at our school. Further, sensational titles such as this article’s only serve to potentially dissuade non-English speakers, who are a vital part of our community, from enrolling due to fears their children will fall behind. Our school could not survive without English learners--their enrollment and achievement are inherently important to every member of our school.

We should continue to follow best practices, augment services for kids striving to meet grade level standards, and work together to provide all of our kids with the resources they will need to become successful in school and in life. This will take much hard work and cooperation from every corner of our community.

@Too Many Cooks

As the expert on how “communication actually works,” the inherent irony of your lecture to “parents, who think they know everything” certainly must not have escaped you. You sure told those naïve know-it-all parents which parent really does know it all.

Also, don’t leave out that our new principal WAS at the dual immersion study session.

Our new principal has valuable teaching experience at a very successful dual immersion school (in a totally different demographic). She is new to our region and is testing out her leadership skills at Mistral. I hope we will all do everything to support her and our teachers going forward for the good of all of our children. Turn on the stove, more cooks wanted--let's leave the fake news and personal attacks off the table.

Posted by Joel Lachter
a resident of North Whisman
on May 23, 2018 at 9:57 pm

This article starts from the premise that "Dual-language education programs have a strong track record of improving test scores and being an effective tool for narrowing the achievement gap." I am wondering what the evidence for this is. Whenever I have looked at test scores across schools or programs it has always appeared that they were driven almost exclusively by demographics (primarily parental education). I would find it very surprising if careful studies really found that dual immersion was really some panacea that could overcome demographics. Yet the failure of Mistral to live up to that utopian aspiration seems to be driving a series of disruptive and divisive policy and staffing changes. Until we have some other program that does close the achievement gap, maybe the headline should be, "Dual immersion students do just as well in English as anyplace else in the district, while studying in Spanish."

Posted by Cleave Frink
a resident of Willowgate
on May 23, 2018 at 11:17 pm

Cleave Frink is a registered user.

I laugh at all these MTV peeps here who are somehow completely unaware of the idea of hiring people with whom you've worked before. Seriously? You're criticizing the superintendent for hiring staff members with which he's had prior experience? Even though these hires go through a parent board and are blindly rated, then a staff board and are again blindly rated before being chosen? I guess this means NO ONE in Silicon Valley hires anyone they've ever worked with before, and NEVER hires anyone from their old company. smh

Posted by @cleave
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 24, 2018 at 12:32 am

Are you sure every new principal went through "a parent board" were "blindly rated?" Including Landels?
It seems there was an inconsistent process depending on the school, short posting windows, and short turn arounds.

Posted by confused and concerned
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 1, 2018 at 3:56 am

why i'm confused: it's crazy that a report analyzing academic outcomes from DI students from the 2008/2009 - 2015/2016 school years is being considered so heavily. if you haven't read the report, let me summarize it for you:
-native english speakers did a little better than their 'equivalent' counterparts
-english learners did barely worse than their equivalent counterparts
-"in most cases, these differences were not statistically significant"

that last one applies to both of the first two findings, and is taken directly from the report; feel free to read that third point multiple times, until it resonates with you.

why i'm concerned:
that data is wobbly at best, and is certainly old news. the last few years mistral has been under new leadership, deploying new resources (RTI, IAs, etc.), and continues to benefit from dedicated teachers constantly working their butts off to hone their craft. still, the district has somehow seen the need to make a change. the most generous explanation i can fathom is that the "not statistically significant" results weren't up to the district's high standards. i'm sure there are other possbilities, so feel free to insert your own theory [here]. a larger concern is the article's title, and its unfortunate suggestion that today's mistral teachers aren't sufficiently serving the needs of ELL students. @joel lachter makes an excellent point, and @DI alumni parent is right to criticize the author for focusing the entire article on the non-results of that report's not-so-great data, rather than focusing on more important questions, like if yesterday wasn't good enough, how do we appropriately make plans for tomorrow while ignoring what's happening today?

@incoming kinder parent: your third point is unfortunately too muddled. you seem well-intentioned, so i have hope that you'll become an effective advocate for the mistral community. sharing your theories on other people's percepetions and fears gets dangerously close to same misguided conversation staged in this article.

Posted by Too Many Cooks
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

@Steven Nelson

Perhaps the biggest challenge that has thwarted efforts addressing the achievement gap was and is the caustic and distracting tactics introduced by former and current board members. High turnover of teachers due to many years of poor pay and the high cost of living also did not help. Hiring an inexperienced superintendent lacking a personable nature and who does not know how to lead and build a team based on a shared vision, rather than endless studies of who to blame for this and that also has not helped. In fact team building skills and the ability to rally the district behind a vision appears completely absent. Moreover, the district office has become a directionless bloated entity. Has anyone stopped to ask what role the many departments, such as curriculum and instruction, have played in failing to address the achievement gap in the last ten years? One would expect the many high-paid administrators hiding out in their cob-web filled cubicles would have to have had a significant role in failing to address the achievement gap especially when many of them are our former principals who were the very ones responsible for solidifying the problem over the years! Yet they were promoted into even higher paying jobs with even greater decision making authority? The board has led us to believe that the principals are the ones responsible for the achievement gap. If we are looking at the last ten years, then the board not look any further than the former principals hiding out int he district office as the ones to lay blame with.

@Kristen McGuire-Husky

While I can appreciate that many of your extended family are teachers, it only adds to the problem of too many cooks trying to address what essentially is a problem of district leadership culture beginning at the top.

Board Member Gutierrez has shown himself to be a master gaslighter. He has employed gaslighting tactics with teachers, parents, principals and the district office. Sometimes he is subtle, sometimes he is not. His views expressed at the last board meeting on enrollment redistricting appears to be basically that if he had to experience being uprooted and moved from school to school or district to district as a child than no other child should be immune from it. Uh... thanks but no thanks.

@Cleave Frink

So which is it? Principals were released due to the achievement gap? Or principals were released to make way for for friends from North Carolina with little or no experience? I've worked in Silicon Valley long enough to know that this type of deception will lead to poor results.

And if your comparison to Silicon Valley is correct, then you will also recognize that the real talent will start to abandon ship when they see the deck is stacked and real leadership and vision is absent. Get ready for a mass exodus to the doors.

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