Education Week - June 10, 2015 - (Page 7)
New York Expanding
Dual Language to Help
By Corey Mitchell
As the New York City district
forges ahead to add or expand duallanguage programs at 40 schools
this coming fall, education leaders
here continue to grapple with issues that have hobbled their ability
to provide required services to an
ever-increasing number of Englishlanguage learners.
The number of dual-language programs is not just on the rise in New
York City, but is also multiplying
around the country as school districts
and states aim to prepare multilingual students who can compete for
jobs in the global economy. In New
York City, most of the new and expanded programs will be in Spanish,
but the initiative will also include instruction in Mandarin, French, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, and Japanese,
depending on the school site.
While advocates for English-learners are praising Schools Chancellor
Carmen Fariña's expansion plan,
the nation's largest school district
has had an uneven record when it
comes to educating ells.
And questions remain about
whether more dual-language programs-in which classroom instruction is delivered in two languages,
with the goal of bilingualism and
biliteracy in both-will help the
city make meaningful progress in
raising achievement for its nearly
New York state education officials
are closely watching the city's plans
and progress. In 2011, a state education department "corrective action
plan" documented the district's deficiencies with its English-learner
students, and laid out a plan to correct them.
The challenges that New York
City faces mirrors those that vex
many districts: a shortage of qualified bilingual teachers, inadequate
parent-outreach programs, and failure to identify, in a timely manner,
whether new students need English-language-learner services.
Nearly four years later, the corrective-action plan remains in place,
with city and state officials working
to update the goals.
"We want to ensure that students
get what they are entitled to," said
Angelica Infante, the associate commissioner for the office of bilingual
education and foreign-language
services in the state education department. She was the head of the
city's English-learner services when
the district agreed to the state's
plan. Ms. Infante said the district
has made progress, but "there's definitely still work to be done."
The district could face sanctions,
including losing federal and state
funds, if it does not comply with the
benchmarks in the plan.
"We're moving in the right direction," said Tatyana Kleyn, the president of the New York State Association for Bilingual Education and an
associate professor in the bilingual
education and tesol programs at
the City College of New York.
"It's not going to happen overnight, but we have strong leaders at
the district and state who get bilingual education," Ms. Kleyn said.
At Public School 16, a K-5 elementary in Queens, located in the
borough's heavily Hispanic Corona
neighborhood, 75 percent of the
1,700 students are past or present English-learners. The school's
Spanish dual-language program,
which began in 2003, is a district
showpiece. In the side-by-side duallanguage model the school uses, 335
students alternate between Spanish
and English classrooms. A lesson
taught in English one day continues in Spanish the next day without repetition. To ensure continuity,
teachers team up to develop lesson
Nearly half the school's students
are currently classified as Englishlearners, with many of their families hailing from Mexico and Ecua-
It's not going to
but we have strong
leaders at the district
and state who get
New York State Association for
dor. Bar graphs in classrooms chart
students' favorite dances-bachata,
salsa, and merengue among them-
and their countries of origin.
On state exams, the elementary
school's students enrolled in duallanguage courses outperformed
their peers assigned to gifted and
talented classes, school officials said
"The program is a source of pride,"
said Martha Jimenez, the school's
parent coordinator. "Students are
proud (to speak) more than one language and parents are more aware
of the benefits."
Principal Elaine Iodice said the
school is considering ending its
transitional bilingual program,
which initially provides instruction
in both languages but is designed
Frank Franklin II/AP-File
City aims to bridge gaps for ELLs
New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña speaks to the media last year at the Laboratory School of
Finance in the Bronx. The chancellor has pledged to improve language instruction for the city's English-learners.
to help students quickly make the
transition from Spanish to Englishonly instruction.
During a recent visit to PS 16,
New York City's deputy chancellor for English-language learners,
Milady Baez, told staff members
the school is a model for the expansion of the city's dual-language efforts.
Ms. Fariña lured Ms. Baez out of
retirement last summer to lead the
office of English-language learners. Within six months, Ms. Fariña
promoted Ms. Baez to a deputy
chancellor role, adding the district veteran to her circle of closest
The move is more than symbolic,
observers here say: It underscores
the priority placed by the two leaders-both of whom were Englishlearners themselves-on improving
education for those students. Until
last summer, ell and special education issues fell under the same deputy chancellor.
Ms. Baez, in her new role, is
tasked with reducing the achievement gap between English-learners
and their non-ell peers in a district where more than 159,000 students-one in seven-are learning
Fewer than 5 percent of ell students passed the state's English/
language arts exams in 2014, compared with nearly 30 percent of all
New York City students.
Ms. Baez brings four decades of
experience to the job, with stints as
a bilingual teacher, a principal, an
instructional superintendent, and a
district consultant on English-language-learner programs.
Ms. Infante, given her past role in
the school district, understands the
breadth of the challenge better than
"They've had a lot of change over
the past two years," Ms. Infante
said, referring to the turnover in
district leadership after the election of Mayor Bill de Blasio. "They
have to take a step back and look
Ms. Baez, who endured decades
of resistance to bilingual education,
is optimistic that a seismic shift is
already underway in New York City.
"These are the best of times," she
said. "Everybody's looking at New
York City. We want to be able to
model for other states."
Since 2002, there's been a 700 percent growth in dual-langauge, bilingual, and associated programs in the
United States, according to a U.S.
Department of Education database.
Holdouts remain though. Eleven
states, concentrated in the South,
upper Northeast, and Midwest, do
not offer dual-language programs,
federal data indicate.
But adding adequate programs
can be a struggle, even in the districts with the best of intentions.
New York is evidence of that.
Just a few years ago, district leaders weren't nearly as optimistic.
Under the corrective-action plan,
officials were required to reduce the
number of students who are not assessed for their language abilities
within 10 days of enrolling in the
The plan also called for aggressively recruiting certified bilingual
teachers and communicating more
effectively with parents of Englishlearners about the services available
for their children.
The district also faced criticism
from such civil rights groups as the
Asian American Legal Defense Fund
for not meeting the needs of nonSpanish-speaking ell students.
The district is looking to tackle
some of the challenges head-on, in
part by hosting family-outreach
meetings across the city to educate
parents about the opportunities
available to their language-learner
To address the teacher shortage,
the district and the state are partnering with five universities to produce more qualified instructors.
The city's plan to expand or add
40 programs in the fall alone would
give it more offerings than all but
five states: California, New Mexico,
New York state, Oregon, and Texas.
But in a district with 1.1 million stu-
dents who come from nearly every
corner of the globe, world-class duallanguage education is a necessity,
"This is a pretty ambitious plan,
but in scope, it's not that significant,"
said Martha Abbott, the executive
director of the American Council on
the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
"It's proven that these programs
can yield very good results," Ms.
Abbott said. "The challenge is what
happens to these kids in middle
New York thinks it has the answers in Brooklyn's Gravesend
neighborhood, where Intermediate
School 288 has served as another
laboratory for the city's dual-language expansion. Forty percent of
the students are first- and secondgeneration immigrants, representing
Enrollment has risen 65 percent
over the past three years, in large
part due to dual-language offerings
that include Spanish, Mandarin,
Russian, and Hebrew. The school
turned its library into a makeshift
classroom and has a roster of options
to help newcomer ells and students
with interrupted formal education
Principal Dominick D'Angelo said
that in recent years, 15 percent of
his students have landed coveted
spots in the city's most selective
high schools. With more resources
and attention devoted to languagelearners, he is hopeful that percentage will spike.
"This is the first time we've seen
a real clear vision of what a duallanguage program should look like,"
said Mr. D'Angelo, who is a dual
citizen of the United States and
Italy. "It allows us to run at a much
With three months until the start
of the 2015-16 school year, the New
York City system is in the stretch
run for its latest expansion. It needs
to hire at least 50 teachers and ensure that each dual-language classroom is split roughly evenly between
English-proficient students and native speakers of the second language.
"It's crunch time right now," Ms.
EDUCATION WEEK | June 10, 2015 | www.edweek.org | 7
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 10, 2015
Education Week - June 10, 2015
Cleveland Embraces Social- Emotional Learning
Challenge of Co-Teaching A Special Education Issue
As Federal Grants Taper Off, Two N.C. Districts Tally Impact
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: N.Y. ‘Open’ Content Going Nationwide
School Choice Supercharged In Nev. Statute
News in Brief
Debate Persists Around Kindergarten Reading Standards
New York Expanding Dual Language to Help Its English- Learners
Schools, Students Hit Hard by California’s Historic Drought
Blogs of the Week
Massachusetts School Transforms Renovation Into Teachable Moment
Magnet Schools Found to Boost Diversity—But Only a Bit
Survey: Students Need More Than Academic Prowess
Education Policy Issues In Arizona Crossfire
Congress Appears Poised to Tackle Higher Education Issues
SIG Money Gives Principal Tools For Turnaround
Federal Aid Fuels Multi-Tiered Instruction
Additional Entrants Join Presidential Race
High Court Rules in Online Threat, Religious Rights Cases
A Movement Gains Momentum
What Teachers Are Saying
Parents Have a Civil Right To Question Testing’s Goal
Parents See Testing’s ‘Distorting Impact’
What Are the Policy Implications of the Opt-Out Movement?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
An Early Opt-Out
Education Week - June 10, 2015