Anticipating the need for informed discussion leading to the 1978 re-authorization of the Bilingual Education Act, CAL, with support from the Carnegie Foundation, commissioned state-of-the-art review papers of relevant knowledge in social sciences, linguistics, law, and education and convened a series of conferences in 1976 to 1977 bringing together researchers and concerned federal policymakers.
Leann Parker coordinated the conferences and edited the resulting series of five volumes, which provided a still-valuable conspectus of the state of research knowledge. In other directions, when the U.S. Census Bureau, together with the National Center for Education Statistics in the Department of Education, was tasked to conduct a nationwide survey to determine the need for bilingual education, CAL was awarded a large project, directed by Walter Stolz, to develop a proxy measure of English language proficiency (MELP) for use in the 1976 Survey of Income and Education.
The results of the survey became the basis for appropriations under the 1978 reauthorization of Title VII. CAL also conducted research on criteria for the evaluation of bilingual education programs and carried out a feasibility study for the international assessment of bilingual programs (which ultimately influenced the design of the highly successful national bilingual educational program in Guatemala).
CAL staff also had extensive input into the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ influential 1975 report on bilingual education, A Better Chance to Learn. On the international front, CAL’s director twice served as U.S. representative to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conferences in Paris on minority languages in education. In the institutionally isolated area of bilingual vocational education, CAL worked closely with the Department of Labor on developing guidelines for successful programs. Mary Galván, a former president of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) organization, took a major role in this work.
CAL was also active in responding to misinformation about bilingual education. In 1978, when an official of the Department of Education called a press conference to announce the somewhat negative findings of an evaluation of bilingual program effectiveness, a CAL staff member, Tracy Gray, obtained the report the night before and wrote a critical analysis exposing flaws in the study. Her analysis was given to media representatives as they emerged from the press conference, and most newspapers reporting on the study acknowledged that the results had been seriously questioned by CAL.