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News : TABE to shift bilingual-ed model 

In light of a 2002 demographic study by Steve Murdock and Associates suggesting that the future of Texas will be significantly darkened by a failure to successfully educate the Hispanic population of the state, particularly English-language learners and other minorities (as well as a Texas Education Agency estimate that more than 684,000 students in Texas spoke a language other than English as their native tongue in 2005) the Texas Association for Biligual Education has adopted and issued a nine-point plan it believes will help prevent such a shortfall.

The plan calls for, among other actions, a phase-out of instructional models such as Early-Exit Transitional Bilingual Education, wherein students are provided with initial instruction in their first language but “mainstreamed” into English-only classrooms by the end of first or second grade, and the much-maligned ESL Pull-Out, where students spent most of the day in an English-only classroom, but are “pulled out” for a part of each day for one-on-one ESL instruction. Both of these programs, which have come under fire in studies during the past five years, are termed “least effective” by the TABE, which suggests instead the use of Dual-Language Immersion education, shown by the same studies to provide benefits for both English-first and non-English-first students.

The plan also specifies the completion of either one course on bilingualism/second-language-acquisition or one course on bilingual techniques for teaching ELLs as a prerequisite for a Texas teaching certificate by 2008; both will be required by 2010. Other provisions include: the establishment of guidelines for English-language development for immigrants who enter school with little or no formal education, and more specified data collection, focusing on the ELL learning model. At press time, TABE officials could not be reached for speculation on the plan’s costs.

-Brian Villalobos

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