Texas is home to one-fifth of all English learners in the United States and is also the state with the highest number of English learners. five times For the last 10 years.Recently we published Lone Star State Charter Schools and English Learners, Written by Deben Carlson and David Griffiths. Using nearly 20 years of student-level data, this study explored how charter school enrollment is related to academic performance, attainment, and income among English learners in Texas. You can read about all the results here.
Jennifer Acevedo and Starley Coleman are data and research analysts and chief executive officers, respectively, of the Texas Association of Public Charter Schools.. The organization’s mission is to strengthen Texas’ policy and regulatory environment so that all students have access to quality public school options. Given their important role in charter schools in Texas, we appreciate their take on the report’s findings and how policies can be implemented to support the education of English learners enrolled in charter schools. I asked them for their opinion on how they could improve. Here’s what they had to say about the quartet question:
1. What was the overall reaction to this report? Did anything surprise you?
We are very proud of the results of this report, but we are not surprised. These findings are consistent with data from past years showing that an English learner at a public charter school in Texas is performing well in state assessments and her NAEP.
Of particular interest was the finding that those learning English in charter schools earned more after college. Texas has a significant number of charter schools that have modeled their focus on preparing students for both college and employment. For example, the Faculty of Science and Engineering offers engineering, biomedical, and computer science courses to help students solve real-world challenges through engaging, hands-on learning projects. While it is clear from test scores that English learners are well served by Texas charter schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, the income findings provide a strong foundation for English learners to achieve lifelong success. It also shows that This is the form of success we expect from all our students.
2. One question the report does not answer is why there is an ever-increasing proportion of English learners in charter schools in Texas. What do you think could explain this trend?
There are many possible reasons for this trend, but let’s focus on three of them.
First, many charter schools are established with a specific mission to serve underserved communities, including English language learners. When a school’s mission is to welcome students (and their families) with specific educational needs and put their needs first, it’s no wonder families are drawn to such school communities. .
Second, success begets success. As Texas charter schools prove their worth in communities across the state, waiting lists for high-performing campus seats are growing (currently reaching about 66,000 students). Often these families learn about charter schools by word of mouth.
Finally, charter schools host more Hispanic students than traditional school districts (30 percent vs. 21 percent) and have more Hispanic teachers (37 percent vs. 29 percent). And quite a few studies have found that students of color assigned to teachers of the same race or ethnicity tend to have more positive experiences.
3. One thing that has come across very clearly in our interviews with practitioners is the almost universal demand for more bilingual educators, even in schools that do not have formal bilingual programs. is. Of course, the shortage of bilingual educators is nothing new, but what can policy do now to address this problem? If so, how can charter schools be part of the solution? Could it be a department?
As always, there is no silver bullet. However, there are promising practices and policies that could bring about change.
One is to increase the number of pathways and training programs to become certified bilingual educators. For example, a significant number of charter schools in Texas have created “grow yourself” teacher programs focused on identifying and developing future teachers to work in hard-to-staff areas such as bilingual education. I’m here. Some of these programs offer opportunities for high school students to explore the teaching profession, some support paraprofessionals in obtaining qualifications, and others are aimed at teachers wishing to pursue postgraduate degrees or more professional teaching credentials. And so on. But regardless of its design, the goal is to acquire and support talented educators who might not otherwise be able to pursue a career.
In addition, what it takes to complete certain exams and certification requirements and what it takes to be a good bilingual educator, especially in a bilingual teaching environment (where teachers typically speak a lot of conversational Spanish). There is a long-standing disconnect between things. ). Perhaps the format of assessment and certification could be changed to better capture the skills and knowledge needed to be a successful bilingual educator. (For example, a teacher could present a sample lesson instead of taking a standardized exam.) And charter schools can and should support this kind of flexibility.
4. Suppose we can make one policy change that we believe will benefit English learners at charter schools in Texas. what will it be?
Texas is a leader when it comes to strong statewide policies for serving English learners in schools, but there is always room for improvement. One of the changes we’re happy to see has to do with our bilingual immersion program. The state of Texas recognizes the value of bilingual immersion programs for English learners and provides additional funding to schools that run those programs, but the funding is for teachers who are fully accredited as bilingual educators. It depends on whether there are As discussed previously, there is a national shortage of bilingual educators, and this is not a problem that can be solved quickly or easily. However, as the results of this study in particular show, being an unaccredited teacher does not mean that it is not a high-quality bilingual program that delivers great results for your students. Providing schools with the funds they need to continue operating bilingual programs should be a priority, regardless of teaching qualifications. A recent law was enacted aimed at addressing this, but time ran out before the law could be enacted. We will continue to advocate on this issue.
Jennifer Acevedo is a data and research analyst for the Texas Association of Public Charter Schools and a former bilingual educator of Texas Charter Schools.
Starley Coleman is CEO of the Texas Association of Public Charter Schools and has 20 years of experience translating public policy ideas into law.