Page 432

State F: A major obstacle is the inability to obtain high-quality data from schools. In using state data for research purposes, there is an SEA clearance process. It is easier for the bilingual office to facilitate access to data for SEA or district staff, more difficult for graduate students. In general, the state should do more to encourage research, especially research on learning styles. At present, activities are undertaken only when there is sustained individual initiative.

State G: Lack of money and staff are the chief obstacles to research. The SEA would like to conduct research on what is working (programmatically) in bilingual education.

State H: A major obstacle to research is that the whole field of bilingual education is politically charged. There are some political officials seeking research simply to prove that bilingual education is or is not effective. It is difficult to find research that is not conducted by a ''hired gun" with a particular viewpoint. In this politically charged atmosphere, it is difficult to examine programs honestly and critically.

Summary: Lack of resources is clearly a strong theme among the responses, but other important obstacles to research were noted by respondents. Several states mentioned lack of staff; this generally means numbers of staff, but it also means persons with the technical and research skills necessary for the task. Some SEAs have offices of research (or the assessment office serves that purpose), but issues of English-language learners and bilingual education need to be state priorities for these offices to focus their resources on those issues.

Data quality is also a concern in some states. SEAs are often dependent on districts to supply both student-level and aggregated data. There are sometimes problems in the quality of those data—both evaluation data from projects and data from regular state-wide data collections. Resources are critically important to allow follow-up with districts when data quality is an issue.

Finally, SEAs are administrative entities, but they are administered by or experience oversight from elected officials or their appointees. The responses to the question about the locus of decision making for research makes clear that these political influences are important in deciding what research gets done. As a result, research questions may be narrowly framed or may reflect a hidden (or not so hidden) political agenda.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement