Bilingual education changes on hold in Wapato
January 28, 2006
By PHIL FEROLITO
Proposed changes to Wapato School District's bilingual program that were
supposed to take effect next week have been put on hold, Superintendent Art
Wapato school officials planned to make changes to the bilingual teaching
method by the end of this month to help Spanish-speaking students learn English
faster. The move was sparked by new state requirements that students take
assessment tests in third grade.
But state bilingual education officials are questioning whether Wapato's
changes would work. Some parents also question the proposed changes, fearing
they won't be able to help their children with homework in English.
Now, the district will put off any changes until after officials from the
state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction visit the school district
in March, Edgerly said.
"We want them to come here and take a look at what we're doing now," he said.
Meanwhile, school officials will talk with teachers and parents about the
proposed changes, he said.
"What we want to do is hear more from our staff, and our parents at the
building level," Edgerly said. "We're trying to get a clear picture from each of
our buildings of where we are at."
Students in the bilingual program are taught in both English and Spanish, with
more English employed as they advance.
But that teaching method won't prepare most students by third grade to take
assessment tests given in English, said Wapato bilingual director David Juarez.
Under the proposed changes, students would be taught only in English, with
help given in Spanish. Students would hear more English in class and learn
faster, Juarez said.
But before using that method, school districts must show they don't have
enough bilingual teachers and enough students who need bilingual education, said
Margaret Ho, acting state director of bilingual education.
Edgerly, however, said Ho might not understand what Wapato has proposed doing.
He said he hopes OSPI's visit will clear up any misunderstanding.
Laws and regulations concerning bilingual education aren't always clear, said
OSPI spokeswoman Shirley Skidmore.
"There are several factors we'll have to take into consideration to see if
what they want to do complies with the laws," she said. "We're going to take
some time to do that."
If anything, the school district and OSPI officials may devise a bilingual
program that will better prepare students for earlier assessment tests, Edgerly