Non-Language Characteristics of Instructional Services for Language-Minority Students.
Laosa, Luis M.
National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, Washington, DC
No of pages:
Educational policies toward immigrant and language-minority populations are a matter of considerable debate, as is the scientific research that forms the basis for these policies. This study examined the educational programs and instructional services that public elementary schools in the United States mainland (state of New Jersey) provided to children arriving from Puerto Rico (N= 251 children, 155 classrooms, 71 schools). The data show that the various types of school programs that educators design especially for language-minority students (such as English-as-a-Second-Language and bilingual education programs) differ from each other and from mainstream English-monolingual programs not only in the features that pertain to the language of instruction but also in other characteristics, frequently overlooked: for example, the number and types of instructors per student, instructors' qualifications, and fragmentation of instruction. These program characteristics are, at least in theory, as likely to influence student achievement as are those that pertain to the language of instruction. The findings raise questions about the validity of conclusions often drawn from studies of the effectiveness of bilingual education or other school programs for language-minority populations. (Contains 24 references.) (Author)