lllinois’ Woodland Community Consolidated School District 50, located 40 miles north of Chicago, in Lake County, educates nearly 7,000 students in grades K-8. The district has a diverse population of students that is approximately 60% white, 18% Hispanic, 11% Asian and 7% Black. Its strong faculty consistently produces strong academic results.
But under Illinois’ statewide bilingual education requirement, the district is required to place Hispanic Limited English Proficient (LEP) students in classrooms that are 100% Hispanic, 100% Spanish speaking, and nearly 100% low income. These classrooms, taught nearly entirely in Spanish to comply with state law, have a shortage of adequately-credentialed bilingual teachers. Other LEP students are placed together in English as a Second Language programs taught in English. There are over 30 different home languages spoken among the families of Woodland students.
As a result, despite every effort by district leaders to integrate the bilingual classrooms into the fabric of the schools, the consequence is that Hispanic students are not achieving at levels commensurate with their peers. This paper, by Woodland’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability, discusses these results and analyzes the trends and circumstances behind them. Its findings point to the conclusion that the state’s current bilingual education mandate is harmful, and that the use of native language instruction should be permissive, and not mandatory.
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