Evaluation of Proposition 227

The California Department of Education contracted with AIR to provide information about the implementation and effects of Proposition 227 and of the English Language Acquisition Program (ELAP), which provided funding to support limited-English proficient (LEP) student instruction. Ultimately, this five-year evaluation aimed to help the CDE understand how Proposition 227 was affecting students, schools, and districts, and to determine the viability of Proposition 227 and ELAP.

Using case studies, phone and written surveys, statistical analyses of student performance data, stakeholder interviews, and document reviews, this study 1) investigated federal-, state-, district-, and school-level factors that influenced the implementation of Proposition 227; and 2) evaluated trends in student outcomes since the passage of Proposition 227. Specifically, the study featured analyses to determine whether LEP students’ performance on state academic and ELP assessments improved, whether the achievement gap between LEP and other students changed, and how LEP students compared with their peers on a variety of high school completion indicators.

The study’s final report and appendices made recommendations, listed below, for state and local education leaders and policymakers to consider in order to improve services to LEP students.

  • Students across all languages and grades gained on state achievement tests.
  • The performance gap between English learners and native English speakers remained consistent.
  • There is no evidence to support an argument of the superiority of one English learner instructional approach over another.
  • The likelihood of an English learner being reclassified as fluent in English after 10 years in California schools is less than 40 percent.
  • There is no single path to academic excellence among English learners.
  • Critical factors were: staff capacity to address English learners’ linguistic and academic needs; school-wide focus on English language development and standards-based instruction; shared priorities and expectations in educating English learners; and systematic, ongoing assessment and careful data use to guide instruction.