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December 2016: The Outstanding Opportunities, but Persistent Challenges, of Dual Language Education

Cambio Center fellow Dr. Lisa Dorner has authored the Cambio Center’s second eBrief, titled The Outstanding Opportunities, but Persistent Challenges, of Dual Language Education. This eBrief is the second article in a two-part series on the topic of Dual Language Education.

The eBrief delves into the research findings on the outcomes for students in Dual Language programs. It is designed as reading material for educators, parents, administrations, and others interested in dual language education opportunities.

Here are some of the basics from the eBrief:

“Dual Language (DL) education programs are growing exponentially in the United States. By some accounts, these programs—especially two-way immersion models that integrate students from two different language backgrounds and use both languages in the classroom are the “astounding” answer to desegregating our schools, preparing children for a transnational world, and developing smarter thinkers.”

“Scholars theorize that DL education results in strong academic outcomes because developing bilingualism likewise develops a range of skill sets that are important for learning.”

“Despite the growing evidence that DL education can provide outstanding opportunities for children, well-implemented programs—with intentional planning, teaching, assessing and collaborating are difficult to create.”

Some of the major areas of concern include:

  1. Student access and experiences
  2. Classroom practices, curriculum, and linguistic choices
  3. Teacher’s preparation, background, and orientations
  4. Parents and community engagement
  5. District and state-level policies, economic contexts, and politics

DL education could lead to groundbreaking success for all students. However, longitudinal research is needed to further examine the outcomes of DL education for diverse sets of students over time. A better understanding of the relationships between bilingualism and children’s academic experiences can help guide the implementation of DL education in schools.

 

November 2015: What is Dual Language Education?

Cambio Center fellow Dr. Lisa Dorner has authored the Cambio Center's first eBrief, titled What is Dual Language Education. The eBrief is designed as a quick read for educators, parents, administrators, and others interested in dual language education opportunities. The eBrief focuses on Dual Language education models, students, and how the programs work, as a basic primer for anyone getting started on the topic. A second eBrief will soon be released to review the research findings on the outcomes for students in Dual Language programs.

Here are some of the basics, from the eBrief.

Dual Language programs use two different languages for instruction of core subjects like math, reading, social studies, and science. Such programs have three ultimate goals: (a) the development of bilingualism and biliteracy, (b) high academic achievement, and (c) cross-cultural competency.

Dual language programs vary in the amount of time students spend learning in each language.
The most common approaches are “90:10” and “50:50.” A 90:10 program has 90% of instruction
in the immersion language (e.g., Spanish) and 10% in the area’s dominant language (e.g., English).
The 90:10 approaches are common in elementary one-way immersion and developmental bilingual
models, which often employ one fully bilingual individual as the lead classroom teacher. Meanwhile,
in the 50:50 approach, students spend 50% of their time in each language. In these cases, schools
often implement a “two-teacher” model, where each teacher specializes in one language.

No matter the approach, all dual language programs strive to create authentic language learning
environments, where students must use the immersion language during the school day. Young
children, then, are regularly exposed to a second language, at the same time as they study the
material expected of their grade level.

Dual Language education is particularly exciting for children who speak a language other than English in their homes. Traditional educational approaches aim to transition these students to English-only classrooms as soon as possible, even discouraging them from using or developing their native language. In contrast, a dual language education in their native language seeks to intentially develop and maintain students' capacity in two languages (their home language and English). Likewise, native English speakers also benefit as they build their abilities in English and the other language.

To learn more about dual language education in Missouri, see the Missouri Dual Language Network.

 

September 2015: In-State Resident Tuition Policies

Recent changes by the Missouri legislature have been aimed at preventing the state’s immigrant students with DACA status from accessing the lower tuition rates provided to in-state residents, instead, requiring them to pay out-of-state tuition or international student rates. Contrary to trends in Missouri, over 16 states have adopted in-state resident tuition (IRT) policies to those DACA students that meet the state residence requirements.

DACA is a policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides a limited immigration benefit to immigrant youth who do not have proper legal documentation, but meet several criteria about the time they have been present in the US (minimally 8 years), their age, educational progress, and an absence of a criminal background. DACA allows these youth to apply for employment authorization and continue their education.

A policy brief written by Cambio Center student fellow Kate Olson summarizes research done by Fellow Dr. Stephanie Potochnick.  The research examines the impact of IRT policies on high school graduation rates among DACA students. Dr. Potochnick found that states with IRT policies have reduced high school dropout rates.

“Results indicate that IRT policies reduce the likelihood of dropping out by eight percentage points. This is equivalent to a nearly 19 percent decrease in the overall dropout rate of Mexican foreign-born non-citizens.
“Overall, this study and other research on IRT policies demonstrate that state level education policies strongly shape the educational trajectories and future well-being of undocumented immigrant youth. Excluding undocumented immigrant youth from in-state tuition rates adds to the economic and discriminatory challenges these youth face, limits their future possibilities, and increases their risk for dropping out of high school. States that adopt IRT policies can reduce these burdens and promote the future educational and economic trajectories of undocumented immigrant youth and the communities where they reside.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps the difference between states adopting IRT and those prohibiting it is the differences in perceptions of the DACA students.  Enacting an IRT policy is an investment in young people that are members of our communities and who contribute and will continue to contribute to our state for many years. Reducing opportunities for these youth to access higher education makes sense if one envisions the youth as part of a permanent subclass that will fill low-paying and dangerous jobs, or if one maintains the hope that all undocumented persons will eventually be deported.

To learn more about DACA, the Migration Policy Institute recently released an analysis of DACA in its third year, including the numbers of youth accessing and renewing their DACA status.  They also released an analysis of unauthorized immigrants in the US by country and region of birth.

Update Oct 21, 2015:

The Dept. of Education released a documented titled "Resource Guide: Supporting Undocumented Youth. A guide for success in secondary and postsecondary settings". It includes this map of state tuition equity policies on page 28. Tuition Equity Policies