On the same block, but far apart in language Education

The two Anaheim schools share the same block, the same playground and even the same name.

But Jefferson 1 Elementary School consistently churns out more students who are classified as fluent in English than its back-to-back neighbor, Jefferson 2. Their differences illu strate how fluency rates often depend on demographics as much as academics.

Jefferson 1 draws gifted students — who often learn English faster. Jefferson 2 sends its gifted students next door.

Jefferson 1 has no kindergartners, who are just starting with a second language; Jefferson 2 takes them all.

It’s hard to measure (fluency rates) because every school has a different population,” said Leslie Peregrina, vice principal of Jefferson 2.

Almost 9 percent of Jefferson 1’s limited-English students were declared fluent this year, compared with about 6 percent at Jefferson 2. Anaheim City’s district average is 8 percent.

Last year, the numbers were more dramatic — about one in five Jefferson 1 students earned English fluency, compared with about one in 20 at Jefferson 2.

Perhaps the most pronounced difference between the two campuses is that Jefferson 1 has English-immersion classes only, while Jefferson 2 also offers four bilingual classes for about 80 students, which were requested by parents. The district has yet to compare fluency rates by program.

In Amy Sanchez’s Jefferson 2 bilingual class, first-graders learn in Spanish about 85 percent of the time. In the afternoon, they switch to la hora magica” — the magic hour — and learn in English.

One day last week, Sanchez instructed in English for students to cut out fish-shaped covers and pages for a book. Some chose to write the story in English, even though they haven’t been taught to do so.

Parents at both schools say they think their children are learning English fast enough.

Parent Bertha Gudino has two children at Jefferson 1 and a first-grader in bilingual classes at Jefferson 2. The two older children had bilingual classes until Proposition 227 ended such programs, except when requested.

Gudino said fourth-grader Robert now struggles a bit in his native Spanish, finding English easier. She wanted her youngest son to maintain his Spanish, so she sought out the bilingual class.

I want him to know the two languages,” Gudino said.

Martha Carrillo, the mother of a Jefferson 1 third-grader, said she favors English-only classes.

Spanish, she can learn with me and her father,” Carrillo said, adding that she picks up Spanish library books for her daughter.

Teacher Sanchez, who also is a Jefferson 2 parent, said she chose bilingual education for her oldest daughter and English-only instruction for her kindergarten son, whose oral skills were weaker.

For parents, it’s a decision for each child,” Sanchez said.

Contact Tapia at (714) 796-6960 or [email protected]

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