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Dr. Karen Lillie (far left), Natalie DuBois and Dr. Kate Mahoney (far right).
Dr. Karen Lillie (far left), Natalie DuBois and Dr. Kate Mahoney (far right).

Dr. Karen Lillie (far left), Natalie DuBois and Dr. Kate Mahoney (far right).

  • March 1, 2024
  • Marketing and Communications staff

Two faculty in the College of Education, Health Sciences, and Human Services and a graduate of its Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program are co-recipients of an award from The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF).

Professor Kate Mahoney, Associate Professor Karen Lillie and Natalie DuBois, who earned a M.S.Ed. in TESOL in 2021, and three additional authors shared the TIRF 2024 James E. Alatis Prize for Research on Language Planning and Policy in Educational Contexts Award.

The additional co-authors of the 2022 study are Drs. Kellie Rolstad and Jeff MacSwan, both of the University of Maryland, and Professor Emeritus Thomas Haladyna, of Arizona State University. The article can be found online here

Their study, “Castañeda’s Third Prong Redux: The Achievement of Arizona’s English Language Learners after Proposition 203,” assessed the impacts of Proposition 203 over a 12-year period to see whether it meets the “third prong” of Castañeda v. Pickard. This prong requires demonstration of the effectiveness of a language education program following its implementation.

“We are deeply honored to receive the James E. Alatis Prize for Research in Language Policy and Planning in Educational Contexts. This is a great recognition of our hard work and dedication to our inquiry into how restricting home languages impacts academic achievement,” Dr. Mahoney said.
Published in 2022 in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, their research is a continuation of an earlier study.

Proposition 203, also known as the English Language Education for Children in Public Schools Act, repealed existing bilingual laws and required all classes be taught in English, with few exceptions, in Arizona.

After bilingual programming was essentially banned in Arizona in 2001, a research team was formed and the challenge of studying these effects on a large scale began, Mahoney said. The original research was published in 2009 in a book, “Forbidden Language,” and was conducted as part of El Proyecto de Derechos Civiles (Civil Rights Project) at UCLA to study the effects of restricting home languages in schools.

The 2022 study honored by the Alatis award added to the original research and subsequent study undertaken after bilingual programming was severely restricted in Arizona. What resulted was a 13-year large scale quantitative analysis of how bilingual children in the whole state were performing academically under restrictive language policies, Mahoney explained. It concluded that, over time, the state’s achievement data does not support the conclusion that Arizona has improved outcomes for its English Language Learners, thus failing the third prong test of Castañeda v. Pickard.

“Many obstacles were put in our way during this long study, which makes this award even more special, due to the recognition of our perseverance and dedication to the topic. The study’s results challenge the legality of restrictive practices in states like Arizona. The award will draw much needed attention to the inadequate policies for multilingual students in Arizona, and the need for Arizona, the only remaining state in the U.S. to practice anti-bilingual education policies, to change,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney will use results of the study in two courses she teaches – EDU 568: Foundations of Bilingual Education and EDU 570: Using Educational Research to Improve Instruction.

Ms. DuBois received certification to teach English as a new language in New York state after successfully completing the TESOL, M.S.Ed. Option 2 program. She is an English language teacher in Germany and previously taught English as a New Language in Buffalo Public Schools.

The award recipients will be recognized at the annual TESOL International Convention & Expo in March and announced in the monthly electronic newsletter TIRF Today. The authors agreed to donate their cash award to a bilingual teacher in Connecticut to help build a bilingual library in her classroom.