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Bilingual Education Column

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A handbook has been developed with funding from the U.S. Education Department's office of vocational and adult education to help districts assess limited-English-proficient students in vocational programs.

The handbook--put together by experts in vocational education, bilingual-education policy, linguistics, and testing--offers strategies to help minimize the biases against L.E.P. students that experts say are inherent in many of the more traditional evaluation models.

About 40 percent of the new entrants into the labor force in the 1990's will be minorities, with immigrants making up the bulk of that figure, the authors note. Many L.E.P. students who are immigrants are often unaware of their career options, the authors assert, emphasizing that any assessment should include a career-awareness component to help students choose an occupation.

Schools can try to stay clear of methods that rely heavily on English skills by using audio, visual, and manipulative elements in assessment models, the authors suggest.

Using interviews, rating scales, checklists, and portfolios as examples of some of the assessment methods now being used, the handbook gives examples of how each can be modified to accurately reflect student achievement.

Copies of the handbook are available for $24.95 each from Crosspaths Management Systems Inc., 2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 660, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815; (301) 654-4600. Ask for order number 00139.

The University of Arizona in Tucson this spring has graduated what many bilingual-education observers say is the biggest class of bilingual-education teachers in the country.

Seventy students received bachelor's degrees in elementary and bilingual education, university officials said; 20 graduates who had studied to be high school teachers received a minor in the specialty. Most colleges of education produce 10 to 20 graduates each year, according to the National Association for Bilingual Education.

Kindergartners in Bethel, Alaska, may soon be taught solely in the native Eskimo language of Yupik. School officials have approved the program for fall 1995, but details have not been worked out.

The majority of students in the district are Eskimo, but few start school speaking Yupik, school officials said, and some graduate not knowing English or Yupik very well.

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