Because the number of Latino students has grown so much nationally and many are concentrated in cities, it’s no surprise that all of the five school districts nominated to receive the 2009 Broad Prize for Urban Education have a significant number of Latino students. A few of the districts are being cited especially for their success with narrowing the achievement gap between Latinos and white students. (See press releases from districts here and here.)
I’m curious if that means the districts also have been successful with ELLs. In a school district such as the Socorro Independent School District in Texas, where 93 percent of its 36,000 students are Latinos, it would hard for the district to do well academically and not be successful with second-language learners.
Here are the percentages for the Latino students in these districts that I’ve pulled off of a New York Times interactive Web site that gives the ethnic and racial breakdown for every school district in the nation:
Aldine Independent School District, near Houston, Texas, 62 percent of 59,000 students
Broward County School District, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 26 percent of 256,034
Gwinnett County Public Schools, outside of Atlanta, 21 percent of 147,000
Long Beach Unified School District, Calif., 54 percent of 85,000
Socorro Independent School District, El Paso, Texas, 93 percent of 36,000
The 2008 winner of the prize from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation was Brownsville Independent School District. I visited that district in the fall and wrote about its programs for ELLs. About 42 percent of the district’s 49,000 students are ELLs. I found the district had a very well-articulated transitional bilingual program in the elementary school grades. By well-articulated, I mean that teachers at each grade level had clear guidelines about how much Spanish instruction and how much English instruction to deliver to their classes, and they seemed to adhere to that guidance.
I’m always on the lookout for ELL programs that have real strengths and are implemented across a whole district that other districts can learn from. If you think you’ve got one, drop me a line.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.