This paper describes an evaluation of the effectiveness of bilingual education programs in developing literacy skills for children in kindergarten and first-grade levels in North Carolina. This will be done through comparing the effectiveness of two literacy skills programs- the English-only program and English-Spanish program- in developing native and second languages’ literacy skills. The English-Spanish classes follow the transitional bilingual education (TBE) program. Teachers in the said bilingual program have attained their bilingual education certifications. State law also mandates that the teachers assigned to teach in bilingual programs in North Carolina must have the suitable bilingual teacher certification (De Ramírez & Shapiro, 2007, p.798).
The TBE is composed of an incremental approach to learning English for young students. This evaluation focuses on young students, because they are the main recipients of TBE programs and they are also the primary interest of the evaluator. At the participating schools, the bilingual education program provides content area instruction in Spanish, while English is introduced progressively. In kindergarten, students obtained instruction in Spanish 90% of the time, but as they go to higher grade levels, the amount of instruction that use native language is lessened to include more instruction using English. For instance, by grade 5, the amount of instruction provided in English was greater (80%) than the amount of instruction provided in Spanish (20%) (De Ramírez & Shapiro, 2007, p.798).
The importance of this evaluation is that it will ascertain if it is true that TBE is a successful program in assisting native and second language literacy skills. The study by De Ramírez and Shapiro (2007) studied the relationship between oral reading fluency in children’s first language and oral reading fluency in English and if improvements in oral reading fluency in children’s first language during the fall also impact the oral reading fluency in English for the succeeding classes. Their study showed that Spanish-speaking English language learners in bilingual education classrooms from Grades 1 to 5 had higher oral reading fluency skills, apart from students in Grade 4. This study also proved that students with better Spanish oral reading skills also tend to have better English oral reading skills, and that improvements in Spanish oral reading skills also facilitate English oral reading skills. This evaluation also wants to know how successful TBE in improving reading and writing literacy skills.
This evaluation is also considered as a mixture of summative and formative evaluation. It is a formative evaluation because it judges the merit of TBE in improving literacy skills in both English and Spanish (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2004, p.16). This means that teachers of TBE will be recruited to also help evaluate their own programs. This way, they can provide the “local” perspective that can help understand...