School Board Aims at Compliance with Prop. 227

Programs to offer 4 levels of teaching options

The Long Beach Unified School Board on Tuesday night approved programs that will bring the district into full compliance with Proposition 227, months after the deadline.

When the proposition passed in June with 61 percent of the vote, districts were required to drop bilingual education classes by the start of the fall term and replace them with English classes where the child would get some help in his or her native language.

Officials at Long Beach Unified, however, said they needed more time, considering that at least 33,000 students in the district are not fluent in English. Classes began in September with most non-English-speaking students in bilingual classes.

“This reflects the direction of our district,” Superintendent Carl Cohn said of the program Tuesday.

Under the plan approved Tuesday night, Long Beach parents of students learning English will have four options:

* Intensive Structured English: Most instruction is in English, but some native language support will be provided. The program is designed for students who are just starting to learn English. Teachers are trained to provide an intensive English language development program and deliver specially designed instruction in areas such as math and science.

* English Language Development & Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English: Most instruction is in English, with some native language support. The program is designed for students who are deemed reasonably fluent in English, so teachers spent time on English language development, but not as much as they would in Intensive Structured English.

Reasonable fluency is based on how students do on oral and written tests administered by the district at the beginning and end of the school year, or whenever a non-English speaking student enters the district.

On these tests, students are graded on a scale from A to F. Unlike the traditional grading scale, F in this case does not stand for “failure” but for “fluent.” According to officials, an “A” student must become a “C” student to be deemed “reasonably fluent” by the end of the year.

* English Language Development and Special Academic Instruction: Most instruction is in English, with some native language support. The program is designed for students with intermediate and advanced fluency.

* Mainstream: All instruction is in English. Students will be placed in this program either if they are considered fluent or if their parents request it.

According to the law, parents are allowed to ask the district to take their children out of one of these programs and place them back in bilingual education. In Long Beach, parents with children in traditional-year schools will be allowed to request waivers between Jan. 4 and 22.

However, their children must remain in one of the English language programs for 30 days before being placed back in bilingual education, where most of the instruction is in the child’s native language. Also, at least 20 students’ parents must apply for a waiver for a school to set up a bilingual class.

Parents can also request waivers to place their children in two-way immersion programs, which place English speakers with, for example, Spanish speakers, and teach students both languages.

Comments are closed.