April 18, 2021

Catalonia, performance of students with Spanish mother tongue

Catalonia, performance of students with Spanish mother tongue

The study prepared by the economists of the University of Barcelona Jorge Calero and Álvaro Choi with the title 'Effects of the linguistic immersion on the Castilian-speaking students in Catalonia', presented today by the European Foundation Society and Education, concludes that "the students who have Spanish as a mother tongue achieves a lower performance than its Catalan-speaking colleagues in the reading and science competitions, and this happens to all other personal, socio-cultural and economic characteristics. "

The work, which uses data from the evaluation of the OECD Pisa-2015, assesses the performance of 15-year-old students and the effect on their learning of studying in a language other than their mother tongue. However, the authors intuit that, although this policy has been applied since 1998, with data from later years "there will be very significant ups and downs" on the performance of students.

Calero warned that the Catalan educational system of linguistic immersion "is not a model of success". "This is a policy that generates clear losers, with a certain intensity," he said. According to the calculations of this expert, that is equivalent to a quarter of loss (11 points PISA) in some groups, and that reaches a delay of up to two quarters (20 points PISA) in the case of boys.

In fact, the second of the conclusions of the report is that "the loss of performance linked to having Spanish as a mother tongue is heterogeneous". In this context, researchers detect that it is "more intense" and "important" the loss among boys and not girls (they do it "better" in education and have more "adaptability"), and that it also occurs in those who they study in public centers, residents outside the city of Barcelona and families with more resources. This last aspect was "an unexpected result," Choi said. For all this, he added, "there may be problems that multiply," he said, even relating to possible cases of dropping out of school.

"Immersion has not been supported by empirical evidence that can be verified. It points in the opposite direction, "he stressed. "The policy is carried to the extreme," he complained, because "it has effects that perhaps should be taken into account." "There is a problem," he added, asking to rethink the immersion in compliance with Supreme Court rulings or policies for center election.

Professor Calero stressed that "the skills in which this lower performance is detected are those of reading and science; on the contrary, there is no significant difference in the mathematics competence ".

Calero explained, also, that this is the first time that this study can be done with PISA data "because the mother tongue is very identified" and he appealed for "a rational debate" to "rethink" the policies of linguistic immersion.

The director of the research department of the European Foundation Society and Education, Mercedes Esteban, insisted, precisely on the need to apply the results of this type of research to policies, in search of equal opportunities "for all students" and so that Spain is an "example" of coexistence of multiple identities.


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