Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Bilingual education for a monolingual test


Published on

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

Bilingual education for a monolingual test

  1. 1. Lang Policy (2008) 7:217–235DOI 10.1007/s10993-008-9100-0ORIGINAL PAPERA bilingual education for a monolingual test?The pressure to prepare for TAKS and its influenceon choices for language of instruction in Texaselementary bilingual classroomsDeborah Palmer Æ Anissa Wicktor LynchReceived: 1 September 2007 / Accepted: 9 June 2008 / Published online: 19 July 2008Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008Abstract A tension exists for teachers in Texas bilingual third and fifth gradeclassrooms between state and local bilingual education policy, which encouragesthem to transition students gradually from Spanish into English instruction whileproviding bilingual support; and state and federal accountability policy, whichrequires them to choose a single language for each child’s high-stakes test. Inter-view data from teachers in six Texas elementary schools suggest that the high-stakesTexas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), a test offered in both Englishand Spanish in 3rd–6th grades and used for school and district rankings at both stateand federal levels, drives teachers’ decisions with regards to language of instructionfor their students. We argue that children who test in Spanish will be taught inSpanish, with little attention to the transition process until the testing pressures arelifted; children who test in English will be taught in English, with little attention tothe support in their primary language that may determine their ability to succeed ona test in their second language.Keywords Bilingual education Á High-stakes testing Á No child left behind ÁTeacher sense-making Á Transition Á Testing accommodations Á English languagelearnersIntroductionThere is a growing body of knowledge exploring the ways in which schools andcommunities negotiate externally imposed policy (Darling-Hammond and MillmanD. Palmer (&) Á A. W. LynchUniversity of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, Mailcode: D5700, Austin, TX 78712, USAe-mail: debpalmer@mail.utexas.eduA. W. Lynche-mail: 123
  2. 2. 218 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynch1990; Tyack and Cuban 1995; Clotfelter and Ladd 1996; Spillane 2004).Scholarship increasingly demonstrates that schools, far from transparently convey-ing reforms, serve as ‘‘buffered institutions’’ interpreting and remaking reformswithin their particular contexts. Further, professionals within the institution, bothteachers and principals, play an important role in resisting, adapting or appropriatingelements of reform (Alamillo and Viramontes 2000; Coburn 2001; Stritikus andGarcia 2000). Particularly the work of teachers, which entails the actual delivery ofinstruction to children, is what Cochran-Smith termed ‘‘unforgivably complex’’(Cochran-Smith 2003). As a result, attempts to change educational practice that donot directly address teachers’ work, do not always have the intended outcomes.Attempts to understand the impact of certain reforms are only as valuable as theconceptions of teaching and learning upon which they are based. Given the increasing recognition of the importance and the complexity of the roleof teachers in enacting education reform initiatives, it is not surprising to note thatthere has also been significant work to understand the decision-making process ofteachers. One school of thought known as sense-making theory, which emerges out ofthe field of organizational science, takes a close look at individuals’ processes as theygo about making sense of implausible occurrences in their institutional/politicalcontexts (Weick 1995; Westrum 1982; Porac et al. 1989). In their struggle to resolvecontradictions in the environment around them, individuals will manipulate messagesand pressures, sometimes combining divergent aspects, sometimes adapting themto suit their needs, sometimes ignoring them altogether. Individuals will go toextraordinary lengths to resolve contradiction, particularly when they face contra-diction in places such as a workplace where they have relatively little power. Studiesof teachers’ sense-making of externally imposed school reform have focused both onindividual sense-making as described above (Jennings 1996; Spillane and Jennings1997) and a more collaborative process of group sense-making (Spillane 1999;Coburn 2001). This article documents the results of our attempt to further explore the role ofteachers, particularly elementary school teachers, in enacting policy reforms in aspecific and highly contradictory context, serving bilingual children in a large urbanschool district in central Texas. Similar to school districts throughout the US, thisdistrict of approximately 82,000 students struggles to serve a large and growingpopulation of English language learners (ELLs); approximately 20,000, or 25%, ofthe district’s students are ELLs, of which 93% speak Spanish as their first language. State and district policy call for Transitional Bilingual Education to serveSpanish-speaking ELLs in the elementary grades, in which children are taught basicsubjects in their primary language during their first few years of schooling as theylearn English, and are gradually transitioned into all-English instruction. Transi-tional bilingual programs are characterized by the use of both students’ primarylanguage and English to varying degrees for instruction. It is common in suchprograms for students to be instructed in early literacy in their primary language.The goals of transitional bilingual programs are for ELLs to acquire English withoutfalling behind academically, to become proficient in both their native language andEnglish, and to exit into English mainstream instruction as soon as they areproficient enough in English (Crawford 2004).123
  3. 3. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 219 While enforcement statewide is lax, support is relatively broad for bilingualprograms; in the district under study, schools vary in their implementation ofbilingual education, but all schools with significant populations of ELLs have atleast cursory programs. Teachers are encouraged by district personnel to useprimary language instruction with young children and to gradually transitionchildren to English instruction by the upper elementary grades. In most districtschools, third grade is considered the ‘‘transition year,’’ in which successful learnersmake the move from Spanish into English instruction. This is complicated by thefact that some immigrant children enter US schools in later grades, but the districtdoes not offer primary language support after fifth grade; thus, fifth grade is viewedas the final cut-off in terms of transition. Simultaneously, Texas third and fifth grade teachers must contend with anothermajor policy imposition: the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS),which is administered annually to students in third through eighth grades. In theelementary grades 3–5, students all take the TAKS reading and math tests. In fourthgrade they also take the writing test, and in fifth grade they take the science test.TAKS tests carry high stakes at the federal, state, and local levels. They are used torank and assign ratings to schools statewide, a system that carries consequences forpoor performance including eventual state takeover. Further, these tests are used todetermine schools’ Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)1 for federal No Child LeftBehind (NCLB) mandates (No Child Left Behind 2000), which also includeconsequences for failure to perform and improve. In third and fifth grades, certainTAKS tests (e.g. reading in third grade, reading and math in fifth) are also used todetermine whether children will be permitted to advance to the next grade, withgrade retention looming as a threat over children who fail to achieve passing scores.While all TAKS tests are available in Spanish for grades three through six, teachersmust decide well in advance in which language students will test, with all of theconsequences this entails. Because of the well-documented negative consequencesof grade retention, including dramatically increased high school drop-out rates andreduced educational attainment (Roderick 1994; Rumberger 1995), the outcomesresulting from teachers’ decisions, both for instruction and for testing, are vitallyimportant to the life-chances of ELLs. A clear tension, if not outright contradiction, emerges for teachers, particularly inthird and fifth grades, when making decisions for their students about language forinstruction and for testing. While bilingual programs encourage children totransition gradually into English during these grades, testing mandates requirechildren to test entirely in one language only—and many pressures exist to makethat language English. We were interested in what factors teachers considered whenthey made and carried out these difficult language decisions for their students:which aspects of the various policy impositions did they pay closest attention to, and1 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is an individual state’s measure of progress toward the goal of 100%of students achieving to state academic standards in at least reading/language arts and math. It sets theminimum level of proficiency that the state, its school districts, and schools must achieve each year onannual tests and related academic indicators. Parents whose children are attending Title I (low-income)schools that do not make AYP over a period of years are given options to transfer their child to anotherschool or obtain free tutoring (supplemental educational services). 123
  4. 4. 220 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynchwhich did they adapt, combine, manipulate or ignore? Our main research question,and the one that will be addressed in this article, is: how did teachers decide inwhich language to instruct their students? Since all of the schools in this study served mainly low socioeconomiccommunities (see school profiles below for more details), it is important to note thatthere is some evidence that the overall socioeconomic level of a school impacts thelevel of opportunity and freedom of the teachers to make appropriate pedagogicalchoices for their students. In other words, in schools with wealthier student bodies,teachers are given more freedom to do what they believe is right for children, whileteachers of poor children must follow institutional mandates more strictly(Goldstein 2007; Orfield and Lee 2005). In any case, teaching at the elementarylevel is always a complex endeavor: ‘‘Contradiction, tension, inconsistency, anduncertainty, while difficult to manage, are a non-negotiable part of teaching youngchildren’’ (Goldstein 2007, p. 52).Literature reviewEnglish language learners, like all students throughout the United States, areexpected to excel on single-measure high-stakes tests such as the TAKS.Intensifying pressure is placed on schools and students to show ‘‘Adequate YearlyProgress’’ in order to comply with federal mandates (No Child Left Behind 2000) orface serious monetary and educational consequences. In many cases, schoolcurricula and teachers’ choices of pedagogy have been altered in an attempt toprepare students for the tests (Au 2007). ‘‘Fairness aside, high-stakes testing hasradically altered the kind of instruction that is offered to the point that teaching tothe test has become a prominent part of the nation’s educational landscape’’ (Kohn2000, p. 20). ELLs face a particular challenge: to perform in a language that they by definitiondo not master. Students who are limited in English are unlikely to be able todemonstrate their content knowledge on a test written in English; both linguisticstructures and vocabulary are often laborious (Abedi 2004). In fact, ELLs in generalscore lower than non-ELL students on tests, but the so-called ‘‘achievement gap’’ iswidest in content areas with high language demands, such as reading (Abedi 2002).In essence, it is clear that tests administered to ELLs in English lack validity andreliability because they inadvertently test ELLs’ English language knowledge. NoChild Left Behind (2000) requires that states assess ELLs in a ‘‘valid and reliablemanner’’ and specifies that ELLs be provided ‘‘reasonable accommodations’’ inorder to effectively demonstrate their knowledge. The purpose of all accommoda-tions is to improve the performance of ELLs by helping them overcome anylanguage barriers that might exist, either by modifying materials so that the studenthas a better understanding of them, or by altering the administration of the test togive the student more time or access to tools that might help bridge language gaps.Yet some research is demonstrating that conflicting state and federal policies inessence nullify many if not all of the testing accommodations designed to help ELLsperform on tests (Wright 2005).123
  5. 5. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 221 The federal government mandates that states must provide accommodations toELLs in the form of ‘‘testing students in their native language’’ to the ‘‘extentpracticable,’’ yet no method for enforcement of this measure was included to ensurethat ELLs receive any testing accommodations (No Child Left Behind 2000).Accommodations designed to aid ELLs have been shown to give a more accuratemeasure of the type of content knowledge ELLs possess (Linn and Gronlund 2000;Rivera and Stansfield 1998). ELLs benefit from versions of tests that have beenmodified to reduce their linguistic complexity, and are able to score slightly higherthan on an unmodified version of the test (Abedi and Lord 2001; Cummins et al.1998; De Corte et al. 1985; Hudson 1983; Riley et al. 1983). Allowing more timefor tests is another promising accommodation since research has shown that ELLsread more slowly (Mestre 1998). Spanish language versions of many achievementtests are available to measure the content areas for ELLs who are Spanish speakers.Perhaps because they are more expensive and labor-intensive to carry out, language-based accommodations such as translation of a test into a students’ native language,a bilingual version of the test, or a modified English version are less commonly usedaccommodations (Abedi et al. 2004). As noted above, Texas provides translated Spanish language versions of theTAKS as an accommodation for ELLs in grades three through six (Rivera andCollum 2006). Translated tests are not without controversy since it is difficult totranslate a test into a version that takes into account the multiple dialects spoken bystudents, thus limiting the appropriateness of the translated test (Olsen andGoldstein 1997). Test translation is time consuming, technically difficult andexpensive. In addition, there is always a risk that the content and construct of thetwo tests will differ (Kopriva 2000). In fact, a review prepared by the NationalAssessment Governing Board addressing the accommodations available to ELLstudents in the Voluntary National Test, identified validity problems with native-language testing as a result of the issues involved with the translation of constructequivalence (American Institutes for Research 1999). Schools have the possibility of avoiding the issues of translated tests bydeveloping Spanish-language achievement tests that are not translations of English-language tests. Spanish-language versions offer norm-referenced and criterion-referenced score reports that test various subjects such as reading/language arts,mathematics, listening and English in most cases (Linn and Gronlund 2000). Accommodations on tests have only proven to be effective if they match thetypes of accommodations regularly used by classroom teachers during instruction,some research suggests (Rivera and Stansfield 1998). Native language accommo-dations are useful when students have received native-language instruction in thecontent areas being tested. Likewise ELLs who have learned subject-area-specificacademic vocabulary in English because they received instruction in English shouldbe tested in English even when a test in their native language exists (Abedi et al.2004). A noteworthy consequence of high-stakes testing for ELLs is that teachers tend to‘‘teach to the test,’’ or be pressured to alter their instruction to improve test scores inlieu of providing instruction designed to meet the linguistic and cultural demands oftheir student population (Alamillo et al. 2005; Wright 2002). The result is a 123
  6. 6. 222 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynchnarrowing of the curriculum in which non-tested subjects are eliminated ordeemphasized (Wright and Choi 2005). States and districts even go so far as tomandate changes to the curriculum intended to improve student performance ontests by adopting new materials and producing comprehensive pacing guides. Theseguides ensure that teachers stay on track and expose students to the materials thatwill be on the test before it is administered. Some of these pacing guides squeeze insuch an enormous amount of information that teachers teach more material in lesstime than ever before, essentially eliminating the possibility of modifyinginstruction to meet students’ needs. Wright and Choi’s (2005) survey of experienced third-grade ELL teachers inArizona found that the majority of teachers did not feel that high-stakes testing hadimproved the quality of teaching and learning in their classroom, nor did theseteachers feel that the tests had helped them to become more effective teachers ofELLs. Rather, teachers felt that the testing pressures had resulted in a reduction inthe use of effective instructional practices for ELLs and an increase in less effectivepractices. Teachers felt extremely pressured to prepare ELL students for high-stakestests in English in spite of their lack of faith in the appropriateness and validity ofthe tests. Au’s (2007) qualitative metasynthesis of studies on the impact of high-stakes testing on curriculum found that while testing very much drives curricularchoices, it appears that the structure of the tests themselves has a great deal to dowith the ways in which tests will impact curriculum. A multiple-choice test such asthe TAKS, which tests a specific body of knowledge, appears to narrow thecurriculum and fragment the presentation of subject area knowledge, leadingteachers to increase the use of teacher centered pedagogies. All of these changeswill negatively impact ELLs, who thrive on student-centered, thematic/holistic richcurriculum (Echevarria et al. 2006). Thus, the impact of high-stakes tests oncurriculum could have life-long consequences for ELLs in Texas, resulting from aless rich curriculum and a decrease in the English language skills necessary foracademic achievement. Curriculum, pedagogic, or programmatic changes as schools confront the realityof student performance on a standardized test is of extreme importance. The impactof tests on teaching and learning, known as ‘‘washback’’ (Cheng et al. 2004; Wall1997), could theoretically be positive; assessment can and should drive instructionin schooling. However, in this case, we have cause for concern. Perhaps the mostworrisome aspect of this rapid change in curricula for ELLs is the dismantling ofbilingual programs. While several recent comprehensive studies pointed to theefficacy of primary language instruction for ELLs (Rolstad et al. 2005; Geneseeet al. 2006; Francis et al. 2006; Slavin and Cheung 2005), findings in California, astate that mandates English-only high-stakes testing beginning in second grade,indicated that schools largely modified their bilingual programs to cut down on theamount of time spent in a language other than English, or simply did away with theirbilingual programs altogether (Alamillo et al. 2005) under the weight of high-stakestesting pressures. Research does not support the practice of swapping out programs with nativelanguage components to programs in which English is the language of instruction.Greene (1997) determined that the use of at least some native language instruction123
  7. 7. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 223was more likely to help the average ELL student on standardized tests in Englishthan the use of only English for instruction. Rolstad et al. (2005) found the practiceof banning or discouraging the use of native language instruction was not justified,and that the rapid transition to English that federal policies tend to favor is illadvised. According to a well-established research base, programs that provideEnglish-only instruction do not accelerate the learning of English and may in factplace students in such programs at risk of falling further behind their Englishspeaking peers (Krashen and McField 2005; Ramirez 1992). In the high-stakes environment in Texas, where transitional bilingual education iscurrently mandated, a translated test in Spanish is the primary accommodation madefor ELLs. One might at first assume that, while curriculum may narrow and teachersmay ‘‘teach to the test,’’ at least the bilingual programs are safe from erosion. Yet,evidence from this study suggests that even with efforts to accommodate testingwith primary language supports, the tendency of high stakes to distort teachers’instructional choices and impact their professional judgment nonetheless erodesbilingual programs. This corroborates Menken’s (2008) findings in New York thatin spite of test translations, the pressure to succeed in high-stakes testing imposesmonolingual policy in bilingual classrooms.Methods: data collectionThis study aimed to explore teachers’ sense-making in response to a series of imposedalterations of their practices and programs. We conducted ethnographic interviewswith the third and fifth grade bilingual teachers at six schools. Ethnographic interviewswere open-ended, allowing us to understand the ways that teachers of second languagelearners constructed their understandings of bilingual education, literacy, and thevarious policies that district, state, and national entities had imposed to direct theirinterpretations of these constructs. The goal of open-ended interviews is to understandparticipants’ framing of the events and realities under study, and for this reason to theextent possible we allowed participants to direct the interview topics (Mischler 1991;Rubin and Rubin 1995). However, certain guiding questions helped shape ourinterviews and start participants off (see Appendix I). Originally, the interview questions were designed to explore areas of congruenceand tension between local policy initiatives and state and national initiatives, andhow these various mandates came together in the classroom to influence teachers’decision making. Local initiatives included a new policy of early-exit transitionalbilingual education for English learners in the elementary grades that the schooldistrict was calling ‘‘RISE,’’ or Rigorous Instruction in Spanish and English, and adistrict-wide push for the use of what the University of Pittsburgh’s ‘‘Principles ofLearning’’ called ‘‘Accountable Talk’’ (Michaels et al. 2002). Testing andaccountability measures, in particular the reading TAKS, were the main focus atthe state and national level. Between study design and the time the interviews wereconducted, district leadership experienced a shift and the ‘‘RISE’’ program wasunder scrutiny. Rumor had it throughout the district that the program would bedisappearing as quickly as it had arrived, and thus our participants spoke more about 123
  8. 8. 224 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynchwhat they actually did in the classroom and how they conceived of their bilingualeducation model than they did about the impact ‘‘RISE’’ was having on theirdecisions. This turned out to be a valuable turn of events, as it was more revealing interms of teacher sense-making. Six schools were selected (a purposive sample) based on the level of support andunderstanding the principal provided for bilingual education. In other words, two ofthe schools had principals who were highly knowledgeable and supportive ofbilingual education. Two of the schools had principals who were relatively neutralor noncommittal in the area of bilingual education, and two had principals who wereunsupportive of bilingual education and/or lacked knowledge of how best to servebilingual students. School administrators influence the school climate as well asteacher morale and professionalism. Interviews with the principals provided insighton the ways school leaders’ personal philosophies affected how teachers were ableto use information to make decisions. Schools were selected with the assistance ofthe district’s director of bilingual education, and a well-respected bilingual principalin the district, who were both also interviewed as part of the project. Because allprincipals were consulted—and interviewed—before their teachers were contacted,our method of selection is a variation on the ‘‘snowball’’ method, in which eachparticipant is asked to recommend others to participate (Denzin and Lincoln 1998).See Table 1 (below) for demographic details on selected schools. For our teacher interviews, we chose to focus on grades three and five because ofthe confluence in these grades, explained above, of mandates emerging both frombilingual education policy and assessment/accountability demands. We hypothe-sized that teachers in these grades would have strong views and much to contributeto a conversation about local, state, and national policies and the ways these haveimpacted their teaching. Thus, during the spring of 2006, interviews were conducted one-on-one with thedistrict director of bilingual education, with the six principals, and with a total of 16teachers. Of the 16 teachers interviewed for this study, nine were third gradeteachers, one was a forth grade teacher, and six were fifth grade teachers. There wasnever more than one-fifth grade teacher at any single school. Average length ofinterviews was approximately 45 min. Interviews were digitally audio-recorded andtranscribed.Table 1 Participating schools % Economically # Tchr LEP disadvantaged interviews School 1 58.3 92.2 4 School 2 35.7 93.5 1 School 3 42.3 90 3 School 4 49.8 94.4 3 School 5 54.0 94.4 3 School 6 44.3 91.5 2 District 23.6 60.3 16 State 15.8 55.6123
  9. 9. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 225Methods: data analysisData analysis followed the methods of traditional ethnographic research (Bogdanand Biklen 1998; Lincoln and Guba 1981). After all interviews were transcribed, weconducted a thorough (hand) coding of the data. Interestingly, there was littledifference in tone or topic between educators in schools where leaders were highlysupportive and informed about bilingual education, and educators in schools withoutsuch strong supporters of bilingual programs. However, one immediate finding wasthat principals’ and teachers’ interviews were dramatically different, regardless ofthe school in which they worked. Although the themes to emerge from principals’interviews were similar to those emerging in teacher interviews, principals were ofcourse more focused on school-wide issues and issues of district support than onissues of classroom practice and teacher decision-making. Furthermore, principalstended to offer an ideal perspective rather than a realistic, ‘‘messy’’ (Goldstein2007) perspective on classroom practice—they described what they believed shouldbe happening in the classrooms rather than what was actually happening. Principalsechoed teachers’ concerns with the difficulty of choosing a language for instructionduring the complex transition process; they also echoed what we discovered to be amajor commonality among teachers, i.e. the powerful influence of the TAKS test inthe decision-making process. Even a very strong school-based language policyseemed to provide insufficient protection against the power of tests in shapinglanguage policy. Overall, the principal interviews did not offer considerable insightinto teachers’ decision-making process, which was the research question driving thisanalysis. For this reason, we decided to focus on teacher interviews for this article.The following analysis is based upon our coding of teacher interviews. UsingMicrosoft Word, we sorted and categorized teacher comments from each interviewinto files according to emerging themes; in the process, as always occurs, the themesaltered and expanded to fit the full data set. The following themes emerged as salient, leading to our findings reported below.The TAKS impacted teacher instruction in terms of both curriculum and pedagogy.The TAKS drove the language of instruction and further complicated teachers’ highlycomplex and multi-dimensional processes of helping children transition from Spanishto English instruction. And, teachers’ views of the higher status of English and thelower status of Spanish (and their view that the Spanish test was more difficult due totranslation issues) led them to move children into English testing as soon as theycould. These three dynamics worked together in such a way that the TAKS test,despite its translation into Spanish, appeared to undermine bilingual programs andthereby short-circuit the education of ELLs in Texas elementary classrooms.LimitationsIn order to triangulate our findings, we had intended to include classroomobservations in the study, thus offering evidence of what teachers were doing, notjust what they said they were doing. We had planned to spend time in theclassrooms of six of our teacher participants; however, due in large part to testing 123
  10. 10. 226 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynchpressures, the interview process took longer than expected, and access to classroomsfor observation was limited. For instance, one principal who we contacted in earlyJanuary was willing to allow her teachers to be interviewed, but not until after theyhad completed the first round of TAKS testing in late February. Principals wereunwilling to allow us access to observe in classrooms at all during the months ofMarch and April, and a few teachers explicitly told us that during those months wewould not see ‘‘normal’’ classroom operations anyway, due to the impact of testing.Our efforts to track down teachers and observe the following Fall were thwarted dueto a number of staffing changes, and having by that point done our preliminarycoding we realized that the teachers would by then have different students and havemade different decisions than those they described anyway. Without the perspective that the observations would have helped us to garner,our findings in this study can only have a limited impact. We can, at this point,only discuss the participants’ impressions and assertions; we cannot talk abouttheir actual classroom practices. Further, while an effort was made to seek out aswide a range of perspectives as possible with a limited sample size, this study islimited by the small number of participants (Principals: 6; Teachers: 16) as wellas by the fact that each was only interviewed on one occasion. Nonetheless, wehope that the questions we raise and the issues we address will help to guidefurther research in this area. We are confident that what we have identified isworthy of further study, and we would be remiss to hold off on sharing ourfindings despite their limitations. Furthermore, the fact that this study echoesfindings elsewhere in the United States (Menken 2008) implies that there isreason to believe that we have unearthed a powerful and possibly dangerousimpact of high-stakes testing.FindingsThree interrelated themes emerged from the research, relating to the narrowing ofcurriculum and pedagogy, to choices about language of instruction and the processof transition, and to the impact of the higher status of English. In all three, teachersas responsible and caring professionals appear to go through a complex process ofsense-making in their efforts to resolve often contradictory demands. Teaching isindeed an endeavor of ‘‘unforgivable complexity’’ (Cochran-Smith 2003), and high-stakes testing appears to have only added to the complexity for teachers’ processesof decision-making. First, as has been demonstrated in other research (Au 2007; Wright and Choi2005), almost all the teachers in this study identified various ways in which the TAKShas directly and indirectly influenced their curricular and instructional choices. Whilemany of the teachers expressed an understanding of the need for accountability inschools, they were critical of the pressure they felt to modify their teaching in waysthat resulted in instruction narrowly focused on preparing students to pass the TAKS.As one teacher stated, ‘‘That TAKS test has entirely changed the way I teach. I teachwith the goal of getting the kids to pass the test rather than to get them to be successfulin reading, writing and math in general.’’ Another teacher told us, ‘‘I think [the TAKS]123
  11. 11. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 227has definitely changed the way I teach. That’s our focus, that’s our job for the year.’’In fact, all but one of the sixteen teachers we interviewed stated that the TAKS haschanged the way that they teach; and we discovered when we attempted to follow upin the Fall that that one, a fifth grade teacher, was not asked to return to his school thefollowing year because, according to his principal, he was not adequately preparingchildren for the TAKS. The high-stakes nature of the TAKS has left bilingual teacherswith few choices other than to narrow the curriculum and teach to the test. The vastmajority of teachers felt that the changes in their teaching caused by the TAKS havebeen negative or not beneficial to their students. Second, teachers’ choices about language of instruction for their transitionalbilingual classrooms were impacted by the TAKS test. Teachers described thedifficult decision-making process they go through in their classrooms subject-by-subject and child-by-child, regarding the language in which to teach. During thetransition years, state and district policies encourage teachers to move childrengradually into English instruction. Yet accountability policy requires teachers tochoose a single language for each child’s high-stakes test. Perhaps notsurprisingly, it appears that the language of instruction teachers choose for eachchild is largely determined by the language in which the child will test during thatschool year. Meanwhile, in order to best prepare children, choice of a language for testingoccurs early in the school year in most schools, balancing many factors, and isdescribed by many of our participants as agonizing. Teachers describe getting inputfrom parents, children’s former teachers, and children themselves, looking tovarious assessments, observations, work samples, and classroom performance tohelp determine in what language they will test. Teachers express a profound senseof responsibility in making this decision for their students. A third grade teachersaid, ‘‘For my kids who take the reading test in English, I mean that’s whatdetermines the course of their year.’’ Once this decision is made, it influences every other decision teachers makeabout instruction for that child. It is not uncommon for teachers to have students inthe same classroom who will be testing in different languages. To meet thischallenge, teachers routinely group students by language for instruction in theclassroom, teaching English speakers in small group lessons in English, and Spanishspeakers in small group lessons in Spanish. When teachers have to teach the wholegroup at the same time, they must determine a way to incorporate both languages.They will often use concurrent translation, i.e. they will repeat all instructions inboth languages, although this has been shown to be a less effective means ofteaching language (Legarreta 1979). Teachers will justify this by pointing out thattheir priority is for students to understand math and reading instruction in theirdominant language; second language instruction will come later (after the test).Another third grade teacher described her approach to teaching math: ‘‘Math, we doa lot of oral English but you know most of their books and stuff is in Spanish, andbecause of the test. Because if they test in Spanish, they have to know the word inSpanish, so...’’ Although wanting to move the children gradually to Englishinstruction in mathematics, this teacher maintains Spanish texts in order to continueto prepare them to test in Spanish only; she is elegantly addressing a complicated 123
  12. 12. 228 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynchbalance of contradictory pressures. In an example of the kind of complexity weoften heard voiced, a teacher explained the roles of English and Spanish in herclassroom in the following way: Math, I throw in [Spanish], it depends on if I’ve already introduced it. Then I’ll bring it in English, otherwise it goes in Spanish. I have to tell you those three subjects [math, science, social studies] I hit English pretty strong, in reading I don’t, and you know why that is... Because of the TAKS.Thus, the teacher instructs children in their native language when she fears they willnot understand her instruction in English, but otherwise ‘‘hits English pretty strong’’to give the children practice for future years and move them into English. But forreading instruction, in which her group will be tested in Spanish, she does not evenmake an effort to encourage English. She is quite candid that her choice is driven bythe test, rather than by her professional judgment about what would be best to helpher students learn content and language. In describing the ways they determine language of instruction for students,most participants described a larger frame: their overall goal to guide theirstudents in the transition process from Spanish to English instruction. Still, thisprocess was impacted by the need to prepare children for the tests; some teachersdescribed the challenge they face reconciling what they know to be poor practicein terms of transitioning bilingual students—such as overnight switches fromall-Spanish to all-English instruction, or simultaneous translation throughout theirinstruction—with what they see as a necessity in order to prepare children totest monolingually and to receive instruction in future grades without primarylanguage supports. In third grade, the process was highly complex. Each of our third grade informantsdescribed a unique and, to a certain extent, individualized approach to developing theideal program for each bilingual child in his/her classroom. There does not appear tobe any single process that teachers follow, and teachers do not appear to display anysense of rigidity in terms of the language needs of children. They offer children‘‘Spanish support’’ where they see it is needed, and they encourage children to ‘‘try inEnglish’’ when they feel they are ready. A third grade teacher in a classroom withchildren of varying levels of English at various points in their transition processdescribed how he decides which language to use for instruction: I have whole group and small group. Whole group is always going to be done in English, small group in Spanish. But at the same time, they also, whenever there is a new [word], they have the vocabulary in English and Spanish in front of them [because I provide the texts or worksheets in both languages].At times, factors from outside the classroom influence the language in which aspecific subject is taught. In the words of one teacher: Here my Newcomer [support] teacher helps me. What he does is more science and social studies because it’s only two hours he can come in... I do all my instruction in English and then they go with [the Newcomer teacher] for science and social studies. They get the concepts in Spanish. What I do is I123
  13. 13. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 229 pull small groups after the whole group lesson. I’ll reiterate the content in Spanish just in case they didn’t get it.Teachers are constantly making multifaceted decisions regarding language ofinstruction, balancing the need to address the TAKS with the language andcurricular needs of children. Without denying the complexity of teachers’ decision-making with regards totransition in third grade, we found that many decisions are largely determined by theTAKS testing schedule. In Texas, the TAKS is administered for the first time inFebruary. Students who do not meet the minimum score for promotion in third andfifth grade take the TAKS for a second time in April. If a third test is necessary, it isadministered during the summer after intense summer school test preparationinstruction, often referred to by teachers and students as ‘TAKS camp’. Otherindicators of individual student readiness to transition to English can be forced outof the decision-making process by the TAKS’ fixed schedule. A third grade teachercommented on how and when she decided to transition her students to Englishinstruction: Like I said after the TAKS test, that’s when I started introducing more of the English. But after the reading TAKS test is the math TAKS test, which is also in Spanish. You know that’s why it’s kind of hard...doing the transition because I know that they’re going to be taking the TAKS test in Spanish. I want to make sure they have the concept in Spanish, and not confuse them with English.Here is another example of a third grade teacher bending her students’ transitionschedule to the TAKS: I haven’t done a lot of direct teaching in English as far as direct decoding in English to those who are working in Spanish yet, because I was waiting until after the TAKS test, because I wanted to focus on the Spanish.Expressing the fear shared by many of our participants regarding the pressure tochoose a successful language for testing each child, another third grader teacherasserted, ‘‘If the student is reading fourth grade in Spanish, and third or second inEnglish, I’m not going to chance it, we’re going with the fourth grade Spanish [andthe child will test in Spanish].’’ Clearly, teachers struggle to reconcile the absolutenature of the administration schedule of the monolingual test, with the gradualnature of third grade transition. We found that in most of the fifth grade classrooms, the process for choosing alanguage of instruction appeared less complex; it was almost entirely determined bythe TAKS testing schedule and the fact that sixth grade classrooms district-wide didnot offer primary language support to students. Teachers by and large chose totransition students rapidly as soon as the TAKS calendar allowed rather than to basetheir decision on any signs of student readiness. This resulted in teachers choosingat times to delay a student’s transition until after success on the Spanish TAKS, andat times to accelerate transition in preparation for the English TAKS. As one-fifthgrade teacher stated, ‘‘The borderline kids, that’s the tricky one, we tend to usually 123
  14. 14. 230 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynchkeep them in Spanish just to be on the safe side. After TAKS then we transitionthem over on into English.’’ Another fifth grade teacher shared a summary of hertransition schedule for her students: Now once my children who took TAKS in Spanish and passed the first administration, then it’s intense English for them. Everything they do from that point on is in English. Writing is in English. Books from the library get chosen in English. Everything is done in English for them. I say, ‘Okay, once you pass the TAKS Spanish, shoooot [sic], English only.’Teachers were highly critical of these constraints; they seemed simultaneouslyaware and unaware that the testing schedule and the middle schools’ lack of serviceswere leading them to undermine their bilingual programs. Yet, defiant in theircommitment to help their ELL students navigate an extremely challenging set ofobstacles, they stood by their practices. As these data show, language of instruction is profoundly influenced by thelanguage teachers and schools choose for their children’s high-stakes testing. Achild testing in Spanish will receive the majority of instruction in Spanish until theytest successfully, allowing them little time and support for the challenging transitioninto English instruction. Meanwhile, a child testing in English will receive that sameinstruction in English with little of the primary language support they need to helpthem succeed. The district office’s bilingual education department commonly advises schools to‘‘test students in the language they are taught in,’’ the teachers tend to frame thisprocess in the opposite direction: they assert that they teach children in the languagein which they will ultimately test. The difference here may be subtle, but we believeit is very significant. Whereas the district’s message puts instruction primary andassessment secondary and dependent upon instruction, the teachers translate this inthe opposite direction. Most teachers’ processes for determining language ofinstruction, as they described it, began with a determination of the language inwhich the student would take the TAKS. A third theme that emerged in the data, one that is reinforced throughout theSouthwest United States and perhaps underlies the logic of a transitional bilingualprogram, was participants’ prevalent view that English, with its higher status insociety, was to be preferred in the classroom. Children were labeled as ‘‘successful’’and seen as smarter when they performed in English, while students who passed theSpanish TAKS were merely labeled as ready for the ‘‘challenge’’ of English.Students’ entire academic careers throughout the transition years of elementaryschool were seen as a progression from leaning on the ‘‘crutch’’ of Spanish (in thewords of one fifth grade teacher) to demonstrating they could ‘‘make it’’ in English.While this should not surprise anyone who has spent time working with teachers onthe topic of transition, it is extremely important to the dynamic of teacher sense-making we are describing. Teachers who believe that success is determined only byachievement in English will push children to test in English whether they are readyor not. When keeping children in Spanish ‘‘to be safe,’’ they will inevitably conveytheir impressions to children: that Spanish is only a temporary stepping stone to the‘‘real’’ academic language of English, and that hard-working, fast-learning children123
  15. 15. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 231will no longer ‘‘need’’ to lean on Spanish. This too has a profoundly negative impacton the success of bilingual programs.Discussion/ConclusionPrimary language instruction has been demonstrated to be the most efficient way tohelp ELLs both learn English and succeed academically in US schools (Rolstadet al. 2005; Genesee et al. 2006; Slavin and Cheung 2005; Francis et al. 2006).However, no form of instruction appears immune to the distorting effects of high-stakes accountability. These interviews conducted with elementary bilingualteachers in Texas demonstrate that the TAKS profoundly impacts teachers’decisions about curricular topics, instructional practices, and the process oftransition from Spanish into English. Even when Spanish is expected to be used asthe language of instruction for native Spanish speakers, and even when a Spanishtranslation is offered for the high-stakes tests, the mere presence of a high-stakestest appears to undermine the purposes of the bilingual program. It is clear that a primary language assessment is the most helpful form of testaccommodation for ELLs who have received primary language instruction (Riveraand Collum 2006; Abedi et al. 2004). It has even been argued that this is the onlyform of test accommodation that has the possibility of allowing us to accuratelyassess ELLs’ content area knowledge (Wright 2005). This research is in no waymeant to imply that the presence of a Spanish language version of the TAKS is theproblem; on the contrary, without the Spanish TAKS, children would have even lessaccess to the supports they need to succeed. The problem lies rather in the high-stakes, single-measure accountability system that pervades Texas elementaryclassrooms. Single-measure high-stakes accountability has been shown to lead to arange of perverse effects, no matter which language is used for testing. No single assessment can effectively replace a teacher’s professional judgmentfor instructional decisions about a bilingual child. Teachers are the professionalswho have the most direct contact with students and the most intimate knowledge oftheir students’ abilities and needs. Teachers in this study attempted to resist policiesthey felt were harmful to their students, but they had little actual power to do so.Many felt they had no choice other than to narrow the curriculum in an effort toboost test scores and to comply with the policy changes that have been made. Thus,as in New York (Menken 2008), Texas’ elementary bilingual teachers have beenconscripted into the role of policy agents enacting a de facto language policycreated by the imposition of high-stakes standardized testing. It is central to effective bilingual instruction that classroom teachers know how tomake decisions about the language(s) they should use when instructing children;however, it is also crucial that teachers have the latitude to make these decisions inthe best interests of children. The ever-present power of the TAKS to impactteachers’ decisions about language of instruction appears to have a degrading effecton bilingual programs in Texas. This may have negative implications not only forTexas’ bilingual learners, but also for ELLs subjected to high-stakes testingthroughout the US. 123
  16. 16. 232 D. Palmer, A. W. Lynch We recommend opening up our definitions of accountability in K-12 educationto multiple and diverse measures of student achievement. Current accountabilitysystems too often look only at the single measure results of high-stakesstandardized tests such as the TAKS; we would like to see accountability thattakes into account the complexity of the teaching and learning process, and theunending complexity of schools, drawing from a much wider array of measuresincluding (but not limited to) attendance; graduation rates; parent and studentsurveys; classroom-based performance measures such as grades and other forms ofteacher assessment; and various measures of teacher professionalism, expertise,and rates of certification. We would also like to see systems with the flexibility toallow local district and school decision-making in terms of which measures willbe used. This will ensure that teachers have the assessment data they need in orderto best instruct ELLs, while preventing any single test from undermining theirchoices. Further, we call for the restoration of the goals of bilingualism and biliteracy asmajor priorities of federal education policy in the United States. Because broaderlanguage policy is often implicitly determined through the language policies in ourschools (Crawford 2004), restoring bilingualism and biliteracy as explicit goals of oureducation systems could impact both education outcomes and language policynationwide. Not only will this allow ELLs in our K-12 system to succeed in greaternumbers, but in an increasingly interconnected world, we can help multilingualchildren view all of their languages and cultures as resources that will enrich their livesand our society.Appendix IGuiding interview questions for teachersGeneral:1. Do you believe that bilingual education is an effective way to teach English Language Learners? Why/why not? (What do you see as its strengths/weaknesses?)2. In what ways does your school support or not support bilingual education?3. In which language do you instruct reading? Does it vary by student? How do you decide which language to use?4. Do you have any strategies that support reading instruction in both languages (English and Spanish)?5. Schedule: How do you fit primary and second language instruction throughout the day? How is this determined?6. Tell me specifically about the components of your reading instruction. Do you do, for example, shared reading, read aloud, guided reading? What else? What materials do you use most?7. How do you teach students to read in English?8. How do you decide when your second language learners are ready to transfer to an all English classroom?123
  17. 17. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 233Policy-specific:9. Tell me about RISE. What is your understanding of what it is, what it’s for, how it works/doesn’t work, who came up with it, etc.?10. What has RISE meant for you and your students? E.g. has RISE changed the way you teach? Has it had positive/negative effects on student learning?11. Tell me about TAKS reading test. What is your understanding of what it is, what it’s for, how it works/doesn’t work, who came up with it, etc.?12. What has TAKS reading meant for you and your students? E.g. has TAKS changed the way you teach? Has it had positive/negative effects on student learning?13. How do you determine what language your students take TAKS reading test in?14. Tell me about Accountable Talk (AT). What is your understanding of what it is, what it’s for, how it works/doesn’t work, who came up with it, etc.15. What has Accountable Talk meant for you and your students? E.g. Has Accountable Talk changed the way you teach? Has it had positive/negative effects on student learning?16. How do you use accountable talk within your reading block?17. Do you use AT in English, Spanish, or both?ReferencesAbedi, J. (2002). Standardized achievement tests and English language learners: Psychometrics issues. Educational Assessment, 8(3), 231–257.Abedi, J. (2004). The no child left behind act and English language learners: Assessment and accountability issues. Educational Researcher, 33(1), 4–14.Abedi, J., & Lord, C. (2001). The language factor in mathematics tests. Applied Measurement in Education, 14(3), 219–234.Abedi, J., Hofstetter, C., & Lord, C. (2004). Assessment accommodations for English language learners: Implications for policy-based empirical research. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 1–28.Alamillo, L., & Viramontes, C. (2000). Reflections from the classroom: Teachers perspectives on the implementation of proposition 227. Bilingual Research Journal, 24(1–2), 155–168.Alamillo, L., Palmer, D., Viramontes, C., & Garcia, E. (2005). In A. Valenzuela (Ed.), Leaving children behind: How Texas-style accountability fails Latino youth (pp. 201–224). Albany: State University of New York Press.American Institutes for Research. (1999). Voluntary national tests in reading and math: Background paper reviewing laws and regulations, current practice, and research relevant to inclusion and accommodations for students with limited English proficiency. Palo Alto, CA: Author.Au, W. (2007). High-stakes testing and curricular control: A qualitative metasynthesis. Educational Researcher, 36(5), 258–267.Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. (1998). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Cheng, L., Watanabe, Y., & Curtis, A. (Eds.). (2004). Washback in language testing: Researchy contexts and methods. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Clotfelter, C., & Ladd, H. (1996). Recognizing and rewarding success in public schools. In H. Ladd (Ed.), Holding schools accountable: Performance-based reform in education (pp. 23–64). Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.Coburn, C. (2001). Collective sensemaking about reading: How teachers mediate reading policy in their professional communities. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23(2), 145–170.Cochran-Smith, M. (2003). The unforgivable complexity of teaching: Avoiding simplicity in an age of accountability. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 3–5. 123
  18. 18. 234 D. Palmer, A. W. LynchCrawford, J. (2004). Educating English learners: Language diversity in the classroom (5th ed). Los Angeles, CA: Bilingual Educational Services, Inc.Cummins, D., Kintsch, W., Reusser, K., & Weismer, R. (1998). The role of understanding in solving word problems. Cognitive Psychology, 20, 405–438.Darling-Hammond, L., & Millman, J. (Eds.). (1990). The new handbook of teacher evaluation: Assessing elementary and secondary school teachers. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.De Corte, E., Verschaffel, L., & DeWin, L. (1985). Influences of rewording verbal problems on children’s problem representations and solutions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 27(4), 460–470.Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.). (1998). Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Echevarria, J., Short, D., & Powers, K. (2006). School reform and standards-based education: A model for English-language learners. Journal of Educational Research, 99(4), 195–210.Francis, D., Leseaux, N., & August, D. (2006). Language of instruction. In D. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.), Developing literacy in second-language learners (pp. 365–413). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Genesee, R., et al. (2006). Educating English language learners: A synthesis of research evidence. New York: Cambridge University Press.Goldstein, L. (2007). Beyond the DAP versus standards dilemma: Examining the unforgiving complexity of kindergarten teaching in the United States. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 22, 39–54.Greene, J. P. (1997). A meta-analysis of the Rosell and Baker review. Bilingual Research Journal, 21(2–3), 103–123., T. (1983). Correspondences and numerical differences between disjoint sets. Child Development, 54, 84–90.Jennings, N. (1996). Interpreting policy in real classrooms: Case studies of state reform and teacher practice. New York: Teachers College Press.Kohn, A. (2000). Burn at the high stakes. Journal of Education, 51(4), 315–327.Kopriva, R. (2000). Ensuring accuracy in testing for English language learners. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.Krashen, S., & McField, G. (2005). What works? Reviewing the latest evidence on bilingual education. Language Learner, 1(2), 7–10, 34.Legarreta, D. (1979). The effects of program models on language acquisition by Spanish-speaking children. TESOL Quarterly, 8, 521–534.Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. (1981). Effective evaluation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Linn, R., & Gronlund, N. (2000). Measurement and assessment in teaching (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.Menken, K. (2008). English learners left behind: Standardized testing as language policy. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.Mestre, J. P. (1998). The role of language comprehension in mathematics, problem solving. In R. R. Cocking & J. P. Mestre (Eds.), Linguistic and cultural influences on learning mathematics (pp. 200–220). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Michaels, S., O’Connor, M. C., Hall, M. W., & Resnick, L. (2002). Accountable talk: Classroom conversation that works, CD-ROM Set. On principles of learning. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburg.Mischler, E. G. (1991). Research interviewing: Context and narrative. Cambridge: Harvard.No Child Left Behind Act. Public Law 107–110.Olsen, J. F., & Goldstein, A. A. (1997). The inclusion of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency students in large-scale assessments: A summary of recent progress. (NCES Publication no. 97–482). Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics.Orfield, G., & Lee, C. (2005). Why segregation matters: Poverty and educational inequality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Civil Rights Project.Porac, J. F., Thomas, H., & Baden-Fuller, C. (1989). Competitive groups as cognitive communities: The case of Scottish knotwear manufacturers. Journal of Management Studies, 26, 397–416.Ramirez, D. (1992). Executive summary of the longitudinal study of structured English immersion strategy, early-exit and late-exit transitional bilingual education programs for language minority children. Bilingual Research Journal, 16, 1–62.Riley, M. S., Greeno, J. G., & Heller, J. I. (1983). Development of children’s problem-solving ability in arithmetic. In H. P. Ginsburg (Ed.), The development of mathematical thinking (pp. 153–196). New York: Academic Press.123
  19. 19. Bilingual education for a monolingual test 235Rivera, C., & Collum, E. (Eds.). (2006). State assessment policy and practice for English language learners: A national perspective. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Rivera, C., & Stansfield, C. W. (1998). Leveling the playing field for English learners: Increasing participation in state, local assessments through accommodations. In R. Brandt (Ed.), Assessing student learning: New rules, new realities (pp. 65–92). Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.Roderick, M. (1994). Grade retention and school dropout: Investigating the association. American Educational Research Journal, 31(4), 729–759.Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., & Glass, G. (2005). The big picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness research on English language learners. Educational Policy 19(4), 572–594.Rubin, H., & Rubin, I. (1995). Qualitative interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Rumberger, R. W. (1995). Dropping out of middle school: A multilevel analysis of students and schools. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 583–625.Slavin, R., & Cheung, A. (2005). A synthesis of research on language of reading instruction for English language learners. Review of Educational Research, 75(2), 247–284.Spillane, J. (1999). External reform initiatives and teachers’ efforts to reconstruct their practice: The mediating role of teacher’s zone of enactment. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(2), 143–175.Spillane, J. (2004). Standard deviation: How schools misunderstand educational policy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Spillane, J., & Jennings, N. (1997). Aligned instructional policy and ambitious pedagogy: Exploring instructional reform from the classroom perspective. Teachers College Record, 98, 439–481.Stritikus, T., & Garcia, E. (2000). Education of limited English proficient students in California schools: An assessment of the influence of proposition 227 on selected teachers and classrooms. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association annual meeting, San Francisco, CA.Tyack, D., & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Wall, D. (1997). Impact and washback in language testing. In C. Clapham & D. Corson (Eds.), Language testing and assessment, Encyclopedia of language and education (Vol. 7, pp. 291–302). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Pulbishers.Weick, K. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Westrum, R. (1982). Social intelligence about hidden events. Knowledge, 3(3), 381–400.Wright, W. (2002). The effects of high stakes testing on an inner-city elementary school: The curriculum, the teachers, and the English language learners. Current Issues in Education, 5(5). Retrieved January 16, 2007 from:, W. (2005). English language learners left behind in Arizona: The nullification of accommo- dations in the intersection of federal and state policies. Bilingual Research Journal, 29.Wright, W. & Choi, D. (2005). Voices from the classroom: A statewide survey of experienced third-grade English language learner teachers on the impact of language and high-stakes testing policies in Arizona. Language Policy Research Unit.Author BiographiesDeborah Palmer is an Assistant Professor in Bilingual/Bicultural Education in the Department ofCurriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology fromStanford University, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in Language,Literacy and Culture in Education. She is a former bilingual elementary school teacher. She conductsqualitative research using ethnography and discourse analysis in linguistically diverse settings. Her interestsinclude bilingual education policy and politics in the United States, two-way bilingual immersion education,and the complexities of preparing teachers to manage race and class diverse bilingual classrooms.Anissa Wicktor Lynch is a fourth year doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin in bilingual/bicultural education. She holds a B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Iberian Studies from the Universityof Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama. Shecompleted her teaching certification coursework at Prescott College and worked for seven years as abilingual elementary school teacher and adult ESL teacher. Her current research focuses on caring inbilingual classrooms. This is her first publication. 123