School wins bilingual education award

MAR VISTA: Believed the first in the county to receive the Seal of Excellence from state association.

Mar Vista School in Oxnard has won a state award for the quality of its bilingual education program.

Educators said they believe Mar Vista is the first Ventura County campus to win the Seal of Excellence Award from the California Association for Bilingual Education.

“It’s fantastic to find that one of the local schools has shined to the point of being recognized as one of the best in the state,” said Denis O’Leary, president of the county chapter of the association.

Mar Vista is a kindergarten through fifth-grade school in the Ocean View District, which begins in Oxnard and stretches across unincorporated county land to Malibu. About 300 children are in the school’s bilingual program, which Superintendent Nancy Carroll described as comprehensive and long-standing.

“It’s schoolwide,” she said. “It’s not a special component.”

The program started in 1979 and uses the bilingual approach — teaching children in both their first language and English until they can move into English-only classes. Carroll said she has proof that the program works: Students post higher test scores than their counterparts in classes taught purely in English.

Carroll said the staff is ecstatic about the award.

“We’re proud to be recognized for doing great things for children,” she said. “We’re so happy. These teachers are going to be recognized for great things for children.”

O’Leary said only three schools in the state won the award this year. Winners must show evidence of academic achievement and English language proficiency, development of a strong comprehensive program, consistent and continuous instruction, effective parent involvement and qualified staff that uses effective instructional techniques and curriculum.

Principal Jaime Verdugo will accept the award at a banquet Friday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The award came in the same school year that Proposition 227 went into effect, curtailing bilingual instruction except by parent request. Carroll could not say what percentage of students at Mar Vista remained in the bilingual program, but said the timing with the initiative was irrelevant.

“I really think that has nothing to do with the Seal of Excellence Award,” she said. “It is an exemplary program, and it won the award for its merits.”

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