INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Liset Gonzalez Acosta is the director of linguistic duel at Global Prep Academya public charter in Indianapolis.
It is the city’s first bilingual charter school serving K-8. The school has been open since 2016.
Acosta said they not only provide language access but also cultural connections to their students, most of the women are black and brown.
“We know that with Latino populations when they come to the United States, what happens is that they are asked to learn English and to forget their roots, their mother tongue and, for Afro- Americans, it’s a way to give them access to a world that’s becoming even more diverse, where you have to have culture and understanding,” Acosta said.
Global Prep’s program is designed so that students have access to literacy in both languages. The academy has assessments for both languages, and they focus on students once they are in 3rd grade to make sure they are up to par in reading, math, comprehension, and concepts. Acosta said third grade is crucial because students move from learning to read to reading to learn.
“You don’t become bilingual in a year or two. It’s a commitment that’s going to take five to eight years,” Acosta said of the commitment to the bilingual program.
In the Lawrence Township Public School District, Sunnyside Elementary School, 60% of its students are Spanish-speaking. The school also addresses staffing with its dual language program. It’s in the first year at school, starting in kindergarten.
From Kindergarten to Grade 2, 80% of students use Spanish and 20% use English in the classroom.
For the 3rd year, 70% of the pupils use Spanish and 30% use it in class.
From 4th to 6th grade, it’s a 50-50 percentage split in the classroom.
Ann Tinker-Jackson is the “Leader of English Learners” for Lawrence Township Schools.
Not all English language learners in the district participate in the dual program, but in her role she supports these students with best practices.
“We had Vietnamese speakers. We had a student from Napal. We have additional Haitian Creole speakers in Sunnyside,” Tinker-Jackson said.
Sunnyside offers a “One-Way” program which only has native Spanish speakers. “Two-Way” is a native Spanish and English speaker. Beatriz Smith is a Grade 4 Bilingual Teacher for the Lawrence Township District. It focuses on teaching “one way”.
“Once they go through the program, by the time they graduate, they can be illiterate and bilingual,” Smith said.
Students in the program are also recognized by the Indiana Department of Education with a seal on their diploma to acknowledge that they are illiterate.
Eloyda Lopez teaches “Two-Way” for kindergarten and first grade. “The Spanish speaker can help that English speaker pick up vocabulary for comprehension,” Lopez said.
“The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has been actively engaged in this important topic to help schools provide the approximately 77,500 English Language Learner (EL) students in our state with equal access to high quality education.
“This has included working to help schools provide EL students with ‘highly qualified teachers’ in alignment with guidance from the United States Department of Education. Under this guidance, schools are required to provide “the personnel and resources necessary to effectively implement selected EL programs.” Federal guidelines state that a school district must either hire teachers who already have the necessary formal qualifications to teach EL students or require teachers who are already on staff to be trained or strive to obtain the necessary formal qualifications and to obtain the formal qualifications within a reasonable time. period of time.’
“To meet these requirements, in 2019 the IDOE provided an update to schools stating that to remain federally compliant, all schools should provide a ‘highly qualified’ teacher for all learners in English. Registered teachers would be required to obtain a professional English as a New Language (ENL) license or meet the EL Teacher of Record Rubric Requirements before September 1, 2022. As you will see in the requirements section, this option was only available to established EL educators.
“If a school does not have an educator who meets one of these requirements, then they must apply for an ENL emergency permit. In order to qualify for an emergency permit, a person must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and must commit to working toward obtaining a professional license in the area of the permit content. Emergency permits cannot be transferred to another school corporation. If a school is struggling to meet staffing needs, a school may apply for an emergency permit for a Certified Educator in a content area other than the one they are primarily licensed to teach. This emergency permit is valid for one year and can be renewed at the request of the school’s employer if the permit holder progresses towards obtaining a full permit.
“To support Indiana schools and educators through this transition, IDOE opened the option in 2019 with Title III funds to pay EL educators to complete the courses required to meet the requirements of section. In February 2020, this opportunity was expanded with Title II funds to help EL educators take courses toward ENL licensure. The availability of this program ended on September 1, 2022. The IDOE is currently working to collect data on the total number of educators served through this program and to assess whether to extend another series of financial support for the completion of ENL courses leading to professional licensing.
“In addition, IDOE has supported schools by providing professional development training and additional support throughout this transition.
“Because of this transition and with this support, we have seen the number of educators holding a professional ENL license increase by 38% from 2019 to 2021, with 867 more educators now holding this license statewide than in 2019.”
Holly Lawson, Deputy Director of Communications, Indiana Department of Education