LANGUAGE GROUPING PART OF EFFORT TO FOLLOW LAW
The Arizona Republic
August 29, 2007
Author: Meghan E. Moravcik, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2
Grouping students by level of English proficiency isn't a new concept.
But critics of the practice say taking English-learners away from their peers
can inhibit their language skills because it cuts down the amount of English
conversations that the students hear.
"The best research we have on this (indicates that) access to English through
other children is a good" way for kids to learn the language, said Eugene
Garcia, the vice president for education partnerships at Arizona State
University and a member of a task force set up to figure out how to best
implement the new law.
"I would think research literature in general would argue against this (law),"
A new law passed last summer required English-learners to spend at least four
hours of their day in courses of English grammar, phonetics, conversation,
reading and writing.
Districts can accomplish this in different ways, including grouping students by
proficiency level, a model adopted by the Glendale Elementary School District.
The concept is not new, said Superintendent Sandra Johnson, who came to Glendale
Elementary in February.
Before that, she spent more than five years in a school district in Tennessee
that she said had a similar English-language program.
Garcia said the task force is expected to come up with a model that districts
can follow to implement the law. The task force also will have the power to
approve alternative proposals submitted by districts.
Meanwhile, Johnson said Glendale Elementary officials will analyze test scores
to determine whether these new groups are helping English-learners master the
"We'll try to regroup and say, 'What do we need to do better?' " she said.
Reach the reporter at (602) 444-6943.
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Glendale Republic West