The controversy about the model of linguistic immersion in Catalonia, which forces public and private schools to use Catalan as a teaching language, has a new episode. On this occasion, two economists from the University of Barcelona (UB) have published a study in which they point out that this model harms Spanish speakers. Specifically, male students of 15 years who study in public schools, who get a performance 2% worse in science and reading than girls and the rest of their colleagues in the concerted.
The teaching model in Catalonia has confronted the political parties in recent years and from Madrid, the PP Y Citizens have done that question one of his workhorses in defending the "right of families" to choose the language of schooling for their children. However, this question has been kept away from the field of research because of the difficulty of associating academic performance with the language used by the centers.
"This is a pioneering study," said Jorge Calero, Professor of Economics at the UB in the presentation of the study in the European Foundation Society and Knowledge, in Madrid, to which the spokesperson for Education in the Congress of Citizens, Marta Martín. "The Generalitat he has always affirmed that he has a model of success and it is not like that; generates winners and losers. The slogan repeated by the Catalan government of "school is not touched", has an ideological component and responds to the interests of certain social groups.", added the economist.
In February 2018, the Constitutional Court (TC) annulled the aid of 6,000 euros created by the former Minister of Education José Ignacio Wert (PP) for Catalan families who would like to send their children to school in Spanish. It was one of the most controversial measures of the LOMCE -The educational law approved by the PP in 2013-. That check, devised by Wert, was expected to initially be assumed by the ministry but would be detracted from the transfers that the State makes to the Generalitat. He had been paralyzed for months by order of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid, which ordered that the aid not be made effective until the appeal of unconstitutionality presented by the Generalitat was resolved.
The TC considered in the ruling that "the system designed by law to guarantee education in Spanish supported by public funds does not respect the division of powers between the State and the autonomous community."
Since its implementation in the 2014-2015 academic year, 50 petitions were accepted, according to data from the Ensenyament department, which stated that no amount of transfers from the State had been deducted from them. In addition, the amount allocated for this purpose in the State's general budgets went from five million in 2015 to one million in 2016 and half a million euros in 2017.
In the study, researchers have analyzed the PISA test data -Made to 15-year-old students by the OECD to measure their skills in science, mathematics and reading- in Catalonia in 2015. Of the 1,769 students evaluated from 52 public and private-owned centers, the researchers used the data of 1,347 from 44 schools, since they have left out the private students (because they do not have data on how many teach in Catalan) and have also excluded all students who enrolled after the age of six (to ensure that they have been trained in that model since the beginning). In the 2015-2016 academic year, there were 70,043 students of 15 years of age in Catalonia, according to data from the Generalitat.
The main conclusion of the study is thatThe students in whose homes Spanish is spoken obtain 10.85 points less in science and 10.30 less in reading on the 500 points of PISA, which means a 2% lower performance. But not all the students: only the boys from public schools. In the concerted, "There are no differences in the performance associated with the language," says the study.
Why study in Catalan has negative consequences for them and not for them? The researchers have not found any scientific explanation. "The girls have a greater adaptability and a better connection with the educational institution," answered Calero to the journalists' questions. To make sure that the students' socioeconomic profile does not influence the worst academic results, researchers have used a statistical formula to clarify how the mother tongue affects them.
For Mònica Nadal, researcher in educational policies of the Jaume Bofill Foundation, the conclusions of the study are "dubious". "It is not understood why it only affects the performance of students of the public, when the concerted is also obliged by the Catalan law to impart teaching in Catalan," he explains. Regarding the girls, who according to the report does not affect being Castilian, Nadal considers that the motive is probably not the mother tongue, but "social dynamics that we do not see and that we should analyze ".
"The main problem is that it is very difficult to establish a causality between the immersion model and the academic results of the students, since there are many factors that affect the results. The most important ones have to do with the educational level of the families and the socioeconomic level and it is scientifically weak to establish a causal relationship between the language of origin and educational inequalities, "says Nadal.
The researcher considers that there are other factors that do influence school performance, such as school segregation -la separation of children in different educational centers according to their socioeconomic profile. "TAll educational research shows that segregation has a negative influence on results, due to the so-called companion effect: there is a spiral of low knowledge, low family expectations, or low motivation that results in failure or worse results, "he says. Catalonia is the second autonomy that most segregates its students after Madrid, according to the study Magnitude of school segregationby socioeconomic level, published in 2018 by two researchers of the Autonomous University of Madrid.
The linguistic reality in Catalonia
Between 2011 and 2013, some 370 families of students enrolled in educational centers in Catalonia – out of a total of 600,000 – submitted applications in the department of Ensenyament (the Catalan Ministry of Education) so that their children could receive bilingual education with more hours. of Castilian The Catalan administration rejected the petitions, contrary to the Catalan education law (LEC), and accepted that the Communications to the families were in Spanish.
These families appealed to the courts and in January 2014 the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia issued the first sentence, which obliged a center to impart 25% of the teaching schedule in Spanish. Since then, 15 centers in Catalonia have applied this model as a result of different judgments. The school is obliged to implement this model in the class of the affected student, and not in the entire center, report from the Generalitat.