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Bilingual Education Recommendation Committee

Committee Updates

IMPORTANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION - Learn more about district Dual Language changes by clicking HERE.


History Regarding the Bilingual Program Review Process:

This school year the Walla Walla School District Board of Directors directed district administration to continue facilitating a thorough review of the current Bilingual Education Program. The district’s bilingual education program primarily consists of a dual-language approach. This locally-supported, research-based and highly-regarded model brings together English and Spanish speaking students in mixed language classrooms beginning in kindergarten. The desired outcome is participating students become bilingual in both languages.

Program Improvements Needed:
Despite levels of program successes, the Board requested that the district identify and recommend program-wide improvements to address many concerns and deficiencies expressed by parents and staff alike over recent years. In order to ensure a thoughtful and inclusive process, an application period was advertised in order to develop a diverse committee of parents and staff to oversee the review and recommendation process. The committee was charged with developing recommendations by early March 2017 for program improvements based on the following criteria: research-based to best support the needs of English Language Learners (ELL’s); are financially sustainable and programmatically viable; ensure optimal learning environments for students who choose not to participate in bilingual programming; and attempt to capitalize on the opportunity to expose second language acquisition skills to native English language speakers, when feasible.

What Are Some of the Concerns and/or Deficiencies with the Current Program? The Board of Directors has fielded numerous concerns from parents, staff, and community in recent years.
Program improvement focus areas:
· Increasing performance outcomes for non-English speaking students. For example, the district’s Hispanic/Latino students continue to struggle in English proficiency attainment as they mature through school, lagging behind both their non-Hispanic WWPS counterparts as well as Hispanic state averages in state testing, college entrance exams, and post-secondary remediation rates.
· The “traditional” or single strand English-only classrooms (e.g. non-dual classrooms at Edison and Sharpstein) continue to be highly problematic as reported by staff and parents due to factors such as larger class sizes, high number of special population students, inability to separate and/or move students, and long-term student “tracking.”
· There are an increasing number of “Heritage” Hispanic/Latino students who are struggling in the current dual programing. Often 2nd and/or 3rd generation students, these are pupils entering kindergarten who may struggle in both English and Spanish, or who have stronger English than Spanish skills despite their Hispanic/Latino heritage.
· Modest numbers of native English speaking students on the “English side” of dual are struggling to meet and/or maintain grade-level academic standards in English as they progress in age.
· Student performance/success varies between bilingual programs at schools due to differences in program delivery, student entrance criteria, and student demographics, creating discrepancies in program outcome when students exit elementary school.
· With current programming spread across four of the six elementary schools to varying degrees, lack of program continuity/alignment, curriculum, collaboration, and professional development continues to be problematic.

What Has the Committee Accomplished to Date? The Bilingual Education Committee has met more than a dozen times. There have been multiple parent meetings (in English and Spanish) and numerous surveys to staff, parents, and current/former students. Members have visited classroom and researched best-practice models across the state.

Where is the Committee at Now? After six months of extensive study, research, and outreach, the Bilingual Committee has identified three program options to best meet the Board of Directors Charge while addressing many of the deficiencies in current programming. The committee presented an update to the Board of Directors Tuesday, February 7, 2017, and will meet as a committee on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 with the intention of finalizing specific program models to be shared with staff, parents, and stakeholders the week of February 13 for further feedback.

How Can I Learn More and/or Get Involved? Visit our website to read more about the models for consideration, the extensive work of the committee, and how you can provide input at upcoming school site meetings and through additional survey opportunities.

Meeting Notes & Presentations

Bilingual Education Recommendation Committee Information

School Board calls for final review and recommendation for Bilingual Education Programs -- Parent volunteers asked to serve

The Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors has tasked new Superintendent Wade Smith to continue studying the district’s Bilingual Education program through the formation of a new Stakeholder Recommendation Committee. This new committee consists of 12 parents representing each bilingual program campus, two middle school parents, bilingual and English-only strand teachers, select district staff, superintendent and school board representatives. The superintendent and school board representatives are charged with submitting program recommendations to the school board by February 2017. 

The study process includes a historical review of past and current district bilingual programs, examination of applicable state and federal laws, requirements and mandates associated withbilingual education programs, assessment of findings from the 2015-16 Bilingual Steering Team, deliberate parent and staff feedback opportunities and additional study and research as needed.

“We will ensure during this study process there are multiple opportunities for parent, stakeholder, and staff input for program recommendations,” Superintendent Smith said. “All recommendations must be financially sustainable and programmatically feasible, research-based to best support the needs of English learner students and ensure optimal learning environments for non-participating students.”

The Board of Directors also charged the committee to consider continued exposure of second language acquisition skills to native English language speakers when feasible.

The committee will convene in September and meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the District Office Boardroom. The Board of Directors has asked for program recommendations during the Feb. 21, 2017 school board meeting to be considered for implementation Fall of 2017.

Committee Membership

Bilingual Education Recommendation Committee membership:

  • Yazmin Bahena (Teacher)                      
  • Lisa Braddock (Teacher)
  • Margarita Carbajal (Parent)                    
  • Dr. Jennifer Cowgill (Principal)
  • Karina Cummins (Parent)                       
  • Diana Evenson (Director)
  • Mira Gobel (Principal)               
  • Sergio Hernandez (Coordinator)
  • Julie Hill (Teacher)                                
  • Christopher Jenkins (Parent)
  • Kim Kelsay (Teacher)                
  • Carey Knifong (Teacher)
  • Christy Krutulis (Exe. Director)  
  • Gina McDonnell (Teacher)
  • Susan Nakonieczny (Teacher)    
  • Angie Pedroza (Coordinator)
  • Eva Quintero de Horn (Parent)   
  • Ben Remington (Parent)
  • Virginia Romfh (Parent)             
  • Wade Smith (Superintendent)
  • Alasdair Stewart (Parent)                       
  • Jean Tobin (Teacher)
  • Andrea Valencia Garcia (Teacher)          
  • Catherine Veninga (Parent)
  • Gina Yonts (Principal)               
  • Chris Gardea (Asst. Superintendent)
  • Ruth Ladderud (Board Member)
  • Cindy Meyer (Board Member)
  • Susie Golden (Admin Support)

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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