Two Approaches to Solving Learning Obstacles for Spanish-Speakers in Texas

"Latino Read 2308" by US Department of Education licensed under CC BY 2.0
Latino Read 2308” by US Department of Education licensed under CC BY 2.0

Source: The Atlantic

In 2014 El Paso Times released a report on the El Paso School District scandal revealing that the board of the independent school district had asked low-ranking students – mostly Spanish-speaking immigrants – to drop out of Bowie High School in an effort to improve the school’s state test scores. The report, which resulted in the superintendent’s arrest, revealed the lack of support for effective immersion programs to help all English-language learners become successful in American classroom settings.

A $5.4 billion cut in the public school budget for Texas combined with poor methods of allocating remaining funds were hurting low-income districts, especially ones with high populations of immigrants, according to The Atlanic. After the scandal, Texas school districts reassessed existing immersion programs for Spanish-speakers and have since trialed to find the best possible method to develop effective educational programs that might both preserve their knowledge of Spanish language, while preparing them for English-language classroom settings by middle school.

Two neighboring districts in El Paso are approaching the issue with different methods. El Paso school district is teaching students in Spanish half the time and English in another half, and testing students knowledge of subjects in both languages. The approach is an effort to preserve Spanish skills while strengthening English knowledge and preparing them to dive in to English completely by middle school. Meanwhile Ysleta Elementary School District teaches Spanish-speaking students primarily in Spanish and with each school years implements a great amount of English-speaking.

The biggest obstacle in developing sound immersion programs for Spanish-speakers is that they do not adequately prepare students by middle school, ultimately setting them up to be “life-long” English learners – never fluent in English, never fully prepared to learn in English classroom setting.

Read full story at: The Atlantic

Education, News
Education, News