Failed Bilingual Program Gets Attention From Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 4/8/13
CBS 7 News
April 8, 2013
According to the state, it's the school's responsibility to teach students of all ages to understand, speak, read and write in English.
The schools do this through bilingual and English as a Secondary Language programs.
But for several years these programs at The Midland Independent School District have not met state standards.
Currently the school recognizes 26 different languages. The majority of students speak Spanish as their first language.
We have the students who are affecting everyone at MISD because of the dropout rates and because they can't pass these tests
The Texas Education Agency, recently gave the school district a "warning."
The state agency will be sending a representative to Midland in order to monitor the programs' performance.
"It's costing tax payers money because we are going to have to pay for this monitor to be here, we are going to have to pay for his lodging." Stone said.
"It's not about paying for these services it's what we morally and ethically should be doing go these children." Dr. Ryder Warren said.
In a public letter The Superintendent, Dr. Ryder Warren takes responsibility for what he calls a disservice to the english learners, but as of next school year things will change.
"We got to this point because of the years of lack of success for this population of students," he said, "I have track records that show what not to do."
Stone says the whole community needs to know about this in order to spark support for the district.
"There's a certain part of the community that says its not my problem, not my child," she said, "It will be if this program does not improve."
If the TEA does not see an improvement the district could go under probation.
The final step, the state agency could revoke Midland's status as a district.
Worst case scenario, MISD could be absorbed by a neighboring school district.
Do you think it'll get to that point?
"No absolutely not," Dr. Warren said, "What TEA told us is that they are going to be watching."
Dr. Warren stresses that's not going to happen. He says there is an entirely new plan different from any of the past years that will help the the students succeed.
The TEA monitor is expected to be here next month. The next review is expected to be in about year.
Dr. Warren says it took a long time to get to the position and it'll take patience and hard work to improve the program.
*Public Letter From Superintendent's Desk:
We’re rolling through this spring semester at a mind-boggling pace – no one can believe we are approaching the last two months of school. As I’ve stated in the last couple of articles, I am very pleased and proud of the efforts I am seeing from our kids, our teachers and staff members, and our parents and caregivers. We have our challenges every day, but in most cases, everyone is coming together to reach our goals.
The focus of my article this week concerns one of those very important challenges. I want to first describe the very negative points to this challenge, and then go into the positives that will come about because of our stakeholders’ efforts. About a year ago, I wrote an article to our community in which I described several different accountability systems with which Texas public schools must comply. One of these systems – the Performance Based Monitoring Analysis System (PBMAS) – is the accountability model that tracks the performance of our English language learners.
Over the past couple of years, I have written about the continued deficiencies of our bilingual and English as a Second Language Program. For the last several years (now approaching a decade), our bilingual and ESL students have performed woefully below other groups of students in our community. This data is primarily based on the Texas state assessments the students are required to master – the TAKS exam and now the new STAAR exam.
In a letter dated March 15, 2013, the Texas Education Agency has now taken action upon MISD for this failed program. Each year, Texas public school districts are assigned an accreditation status. The four levels of accreditations are Accredited, Accredited-Warned, Accredited-Probation, and Not Accredited-Revoked. As of March 15th, Midland ISD is officially labeled as Accredited-Warned. This warning comes about because of the district’s failure to properly serve our English language learners.
Over the next year, we will be officially “monitored” by a consultant working for the Texas Education Agency, and this person’s sole responsibility will be to monitor the efforts being put forth to achieve success with our students within this program and to report back to TEA his findings. Any future decisions that will be made by our commissioner, Commissioner Michael Williams, will be based on future accountability data and this monitor’s findings.
As I’ve visited with many members of our community about our educational programs, I sometimes get questions about the reasoning and validity of bilingual and ESL programs. Some of our community members don’t realize the mandate we have to assure all of our children gain competency in the English language. Bilingual and ESL programs are mandated by Texas law.
In section 29.052 of the Texas Education Code, the following is written, “English is the basic language of this state. Public schools are responsible for providing a full opportunity for all students to become competent in speaking, reading, writing, and comprehending the English language.” This is our mandate, and to this end we are going to dedicate ourselves.
I also want to make sure all of our parents and other community stakeholders truly understand the challenges to make success happen. No one should blame the failure of this program on our children or our classroom teachers – this one is completely on me. As the superintendent of schools for MISD, it is my responsibility to assure that all academic and instructional programs are supported, are staffed, and are organized in a manner that will assure success, and I have not done enough with this specific program to assure that success, but as of the 2013-14 school year, that will change.
I presented a detailed report to the MISD Board of Trustees a couple of weeks ago in our March board meeting. In this report, I outlined five academic initiatives that are going to drive MISD into the future. The five initiatives are as follows: (1) Evaluation of all district / campus leadership positions; (2) Evaluation of MISD core instructional divisions, (3) Transformation of MISD Bilingual / ESL Program; (4) Transformation of Coleman High School; and (5) Creation of a High School Petroleum Academy to produce college and career ready graduates.
One of the most important programs that will be focused upon during these initiatives will be our bilingual and ESL program. I will be sending a letter to parents and community members explaining MISD’s accreditation status and the steps we will be following to address the bilingual and ESL deficiencies. These steps actually started over a year ago. Following the initiatives listed above, we have already made the following decisions district-wide:
· Initiative #1 (Leadership): Beginning the 2012-13 school year, changes were made to instructional leadership positions. These leadership alterations spanned the entire Teaching & Learning Program, as well as the Bilingual/ESL Department itself. MISD has also just announced sweeping changes in campus leadership that places each of our building principals onto campuses that best fits their personal skill sets. This spring and summer we are going to continue to refine our leadership positions to assure all are correctly placed.
· Initiative #2 (Instruction): All areas of instruction across our school district – language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies – are currently or are scheduled to be audited. As the state has increased the rigor of both the curriculum requirements and the assessment in which the students’ knowledge of that curriculum is assessed, we must assure our teachers have the best programs of support to assist them in succeeding with our children.
· Initiative #3 (Transformation): The bilingual program as we know it will significantly transform for the 2013-14 school year. In efforts to increase success rates of our kids in this program, we have initiated several reforms of the existing program, but these changes did not produce the academic gains we have desired. We are going to pool our resources that will target a specific number of elementary campuses in which our bilingual and ESL students will be educated. For our bilingual campuses, this will place the very best bilingual teachers with our children. These teachers will have the ability to train, team, research, and plan with each other to assure a high level of rigor in every classroom. The teachers will also be under the leadership of our most knowledgeable principals in the area of bilingual education, so they will all be able to support each other.
· Initiative #4 (Coleman HS): One of the most exciting initiatives we are discussing at this time is the transformation of Coleman High School. CHS has a record of excellence in serving our nontraditional learners. Our teachers and staff members at Coleman have been able to recover hundreds of students throughout the years and have given these students the ability to earn their high school diplomas. Expanding the services of Coleman to include our ESL students will allow for a new generation of success stories to be generated from the work done at CHS.
I will be writing a series of articles over the next several weeks that will outline these different initiatives for our community members. The reason I started with our bilingual and ESL programs is the very fact that this program (and our students) have languished for years, and we have dedicated ourselves to truly transform this program into one that will be a pride point for the district and the community as a whole. We will be meeting with all of our bilingual teachers next week to discuss the changes in the program, and then we will move right into a series of parent meetings in which we will outline the program transformation to our caregivers.
The bottom line is that we understand this will not be an easy task – it has taken a long time to get to this position, and it will take time to move the bar up until we are serving these children with excellence, but that has to be the goal. As a district, we are not going to accept mediocrity for any of our programs, and these initiatives are going to drive us upward.
I want to thank everyone for the support given to our schools and most importantly the support given to our children. If anyone has questions concerning the issues raised in this article, or about anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Ryder Warren, Superintendent of Schools
Midland Independent School District