As you know, Paxson Elementary School provides a Spanish Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Program and Washington Middle School currently offers Spanish instruction to 6th and 7th grade students who have come out of the Paxson DLI Program. While the program has been effective it is important to consider how this program will be implemented long term as students move through our K-12 system.
In January I pulled together a group of parents and staff, known as the DLI workgroup, to discuss the successes and challenges of our program and provide guidance on the development of a K-12 plan. I’d like to update you on some of the recent work and discussions.
In our first meeting we clarified the long term goals of the program and best outcomes for students involved in the program. In our most recent meeting, we discussed some challenges currently facing the implementation of the program at Paxson.
These were the challenges expressed by staff and parents:
- The “thirds model” offered to students in 3rd-5th grade was viewed as not as effective as the 50/50 model in K-2. (Under the thirds model, students rotate each day between three teachers for their various subjects.)
- The grouping (also known as tracking) of students in grades 3-5 based on their proficiency in Spanish has created some concerns.
- There was a concern that the needs of students who receive special education services and the delivery of those services were in conflict with Spanish acquisition under the thirds model.
The DLI workgroup, with careful guidance from the Paxson staff, agreed on some potential changes for the 2020-21 school year. It is intended that these changes could be phased-in over the next several years, depending on staff attrition and availability of bilingual staff. If we are able to speed up the implementation of these solutions to include more than one grade level at a time, we certainly will do so.
The proposed solutions include:
- Training for all Paxson staff K-5 in Guided Language Acquisition and Design (GLAD) teaching strategies starting this spring.
- Committing to a 50/50 dual language immersion model in grades 3-5 and committing to research-based best practices for dual language immersion instruction. This implementation plan could take three years to put into place.
- In 2020-21, the school would look to capitalize on a few retirements and move some English-speaking upper grade level teachers to English-speaking K-2 classrooms and work to hire another bilingual teacher for 3rd grade.
- Having an extra bilingual teacher would facilitate the implementation of a 50/50 model.
- In subsequent years, we would hope to implement a similar plan for 4th and 5th grade.
This plan was discussed with the Paxson staff on February 10th and received general approval from the staff. The DLI work group will continue to meet and refine the solutions for Paxson and address the challenges identified at Washington Middle School.
It is possible that upon reading this email, you will have questions about how the proposed changes will impact your student. I can commit to you that we will share more details with you when we have fully refined the proposed solution in the coming weeks and months.
If you have questions or concerns, I invite you to share them with your child’s classroom teacher, with principal Edward at Paxson, or directly with me. Your input will help us in the problem solving process.