FWISD`s Bilingual Program

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Serving Fort Worth ISD’s English Language Learners
"Where inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national originminority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered
by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language
deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students."
35 FR 11595 (1970), affirmed in Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563
A. State and federal requirements
School districts throughout the United States scrambled to implement programs
for their English language learners (ELLs) following the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court
Decision. The Los Angeles Unified School District, for one, signed a consent decree
with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights costing $450 million.
Here in Texas, the Legislature crafted the Texas state policy: “It is the policy of
the state that every student who has a home language other than English and who is
identified as LEP shall be provided a full opportunity to participate in a bilingual
education or English as a second language (ESL) program.” The statutes are carried in
TEC 29.05 et seq and the regulations which implement the code are at 19 TAC 89.1210
et seq.
The statute requires each district with an enrollment of 20 or more LEP students
in any language classification in the same grade to offer a bilingual education or special
language program, as follows:
1. K through elementary grades: bilingual education
2. Post-elementary through grade 8: bilingual education, ESL or other transitional
language instruction approved by TEA
Grades 9-12: District shall offer instruction in ESL.
3. The law also requires annual administration of each student’s proficiency to
determine the extent to which the student has developed oral and written language
proficiency and specific language skills.
B. Fort Worth ISD’s program
Fort Worth ISD has adopted the programmatic format proposed by Gomez and
Gomez. We provide their Dual Language programs in over 150 classrooms in 57 of our
100 schools. All programs are Spanish/English programs. The district also has many
1
Vietnamese students; however, we obtain a waiver from the requirement to provide them
Dual Language instruction.
The Dual Language program, a PK-5 program, is just for Spanish-speaking
English Language Learners (ELLs). According to the district manual, “Literacy
instruction is in Spanish and/or English, depending upon language dominance on initial
enrollment. Social Studies and Science are taught in Spanish. Math is taught in
English.” (source: Elementary Bilingual/ESL program manual, June 2012, Part III
Section E, reproduced in the Appendix.)
C. Issues in the Board oversight and administration of the ELL program
1. The design of programs for English Language Learners (ELLs) is inadequately
defined and inconsistently implemented to meet state achievement performance standards
according to the 2012 curriculum audit.1
2. The audit acknowledges the existence of administrative direction for the ELL
program, but notes that it has not been adopted by the board.2 This recommendation is
linked to Finding 1.1 which notes that “Board policies are inadequate to direct curriculum
management decision making and to establish control over the educational program and
related organizational functions.”3
3. The number of identified ELL children has increased by 10% over the last four
years. However, during this period the number in bilingual classes has increased by
nearly half, with a corresponding decrease in the number in ESL classes.
Table 1.
Changes in FWISD ELL enrollment, 2007-08 to 2011-124
2007-08
Number in ESL classes
11,588
Number in Bilingual classes
9,631
Total number LEP
22,377
2011-12
8,211
13,802
23,239
% change
-29%
+43%
+10%
4. The performance of ELL students during this period is of grave concern. ELL
student TAKS scores have decreased compared to state standards since FWISD’s dual
language program was implemented. Comparisons across years are troublesome due to
constant changes in the passing score applied by the state. Nevertheless, the data indicate
that FWISD’s ELL children are falling farther and farther behind ELL children in the rest
of Texas, as can be seen on the next page.
1
Texas Curriculum Management Audit Center, Texas Assn. of School Administrators, A Curriculum Audit
of the Fort Worth Independent School District, August 2012, p. 222.
2
Ibid., p. 227.
3
Ibid., p. v.
4
Ibid., p. 226.
2
Table 2.
Percentage of LEP students at Standard/Above on TAKS, compared with State
and District Levels5
2006-07
2010-11
2006-07
2010-11
Reading
FWISD
60
66
Mathematics
FWISD
52
70
State
67
90
State
62
84
Difference
-7
-24
Difference
-10
-14
5. Perhaps of even greater concern, the graduation rate for FWISD’s LEP
students has decreased compared to both state and FWISD levels.
Table 3
Percentage of All Students Graduating in the State and District
Compared to LEP Students Graduating 2006-20116
State
2006-07
80.4
2010-11
84.3
Change 2007-2011 +3.9
FWISD
77.2
79.4
+2.2
LEP
52.2
43.7
-8.5
The curriculum audit expresses additional concerns regarding the structure and
performance of our program, including
 A lack of Reasonableness
 Concerns regarding comprehensiveness and equal access;
 Adequacy of organizational capacity;
 Integration with the regular program;
 Insufficient budget; and
 Lack of a plan for evaluation.
5
6
Curriculum Audit, p. 238, Exhibit 3.2.7
Ibid., p. 239 Exhibit 3.2.8
3
Appendix
Dual Language Program Requirements7
7
Bilingual ESL Department, FWISD, Elementary Bilingual ESL Program Manual, 2012-13.
4
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