Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dual Language Followup: The Power of Choice

You may recall that back in August, I looked into some issues related to opting out of Dual Language instruction.   Some HSD elementary schools are now 100% dual-language, but there were a subset of kids who were doing very poorly in this environment, and failing to acquire grade-level skills in either language.   Parents who wanted to pull their kids out were initially given a "hard sell" by the principal to try to keep them in the program, but in the end we found that the district does allow any child the ability to opt out by transferring to another school.  

This week I received a great followup email from one of the parents involved, and he gave me permission to share with my readers:

I wanted to update you on the progress of my second grader after being removed from the dual language program. She started second grade way behind state standards. She completely hated reading and writing. It is now 3 months into the school year. her increased abilities with basic academics has grown into a new passion for learning. she loves to read a book in her room when she's bored. She is now meeting state standards in all of her subjects. I was becoming suspicious of a learning disability last year because she was so frustrated because she wasn't able to grow with her peers... I think we both Agree dual language can be a great opportunity for some children, while others are going to suffer greatly by it, especially when there is no second language at home to help strengthen the foreign language in the child's mind.

It's great to hear when such a change is working well!   I think this feedback helps to reinforce some key aspects of the overall discussions we have been having in this blog:
  • While it is a positive element in many situations, dual-language is not a panacea, and for many students in early grades it is not the right method to learn reading and writing.  
  • Each dual-language-only school needs to work on making it clear to parents that they can opt out, and actively assist those who want to make this choice for their child.
  • In general, one-size-fits-all solutions are a bad idea to implement across the board- students have different learning styles and different strengths, and we need to provide multiple choices of programs to meet each student's needs.
I would love to hear more (good or bad) from parents in a similar situation; be sure to send me an email or post a comment here if you have a story to share.      


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