Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Developmental/Transitional Bilingual Model Versus Dual Immersion

CRES14 LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan
Both Camino Nuevo and Echo Park Community Partners offer bilingual programs. What may be misleading to some is the significant difference in the type of program that is offered at each school. The differences lie in three areas: 1. the students for whom the program is designed, 2. the goal of each program, and 3. the issue of parental choice. Camino Nuevo offers what is called a developmental or transitional program, while Echo Park Community School offers a dual immersion program

Students/class composition
Developmental program – 100% of students are English learners. If English speaking students were to be placed in this program, they would be receiving instruction appropriate for English learners. This is the case at Camino Nuevo.

Dual language program – Ideally 50% of students are English learners and 50% are English speakers. Each group may be represented by as high as 70% with the companion group being as low as 30%.

Defining the goals
Developmental Program – The goal of the program is for all English learners to transition to an all-English program. Kindergarten students are taught in their native (target) language for 80% of the day while being taught in English for 20% of the day. The percentage time of the target language decreases each year until such time as 100% of instruction is given in English. The student is reclassified and designated as RFEP (Redesignated Fluent English Proficient). After reclassification no instruction is given in the target language.

Dual Language Program – The goal of the program is for ALL students to become bilingual and biliterate. All students are taught all subjects in English and the target language as long as they are in the program.

Parental choice
According to state law and LAUSD policy, parents must be offered the option of a bilingual, a dual immersion or an English-only program. Camino Nuevo, according to its literature, places ALL students in a bilingual program, negating the possibility of parental choice. If it were a traditional charter school, this might be acceptable since the parents would have the choice of sending their child to that school. But under Public School Choice requirements, it is a school with a boundary area. That is, every child within the boundary attends that school. The parent who does not wish the bilingual option has no choice but to find another school outside the boundary. In a diverse community such as Echo Park, this requirement to participate in a bilingual program is neither appropriate nor legal.

Echo Park Community School (EPCS) offers a dual immersion strand. Beginning in kindergarten and adding a grade a year, a dual immersion program will be offered to the children of all interested parents. An English-only option is also available. Additionally EPCS will participate in the FLES program (Foreign Language in Elementary School) offering the language study option, as an elective, to all students who are in grades not yet receiving the dual program. Middle school students would have the same option.

Cheryl Ortega
Director of Bilingual Education
United Teachers Los Angeles

For More on CRES #14 and The Echo Park Community School


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