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WE Expect Excellence: Expansion of the Dual Language Program

Formerly known as the Two-way Immersion Program, the Dual Language Program strives to honor and develop multilingual, multiliterate and multicultural students through rigorous, culturally inclusive education while nurturing the diversity of identities, and empowering students to become agents of change in a global community.

In the Beaverton School District, there are three elementary schools offering the Dual Language Program, Aloha-Huber Park K-8, Barnes and Vose.  Over the past eight years, the program has expanded to the middle and high school levels. Last year, Beaverton High School piloted limited courses in Math and Science, expanding in the 2016-2017 school year to offer three math courses, four science courses, Spanish Literature & Composition and AP Spanish.  Eventually, the program will expand to Aloha and Southridge high schools.

"What we are trying to do is create a good feeder system so that we can provide a K-12 option for students. We really want to create a program where students are starting the program in the elementary years and continuing the program throughout their school career," says Toshiko Maurizio, Director of Multilingual Programs. 

Although, a K-12 system would be ideal, there are three types of students who could benefit from the expansion of the Dual Language Program at the secondary level. There are the students who have been in the program since elementary school who will benefit from the ability to engage in literacy development in both languages every day, with focused language instruction regardless of content. "Maintaining students' bi-literacy skills and ability to read, write and speak in two languages actually supports them in the upper grades as well. When they stop at the elementary level and don't have the opportunity to continue at the middle and high school levels, they're still using what they know in both languages, but they are not able to develop and grow their biliteracy skills at the rate they would if they continued with dual language in middle and high school," says Sarita Amaya, Assistant Administrator for Multilingual Programs.

There are also students who are native Spanish speakers, who have not been in the Dual Language Program, who have developed literacy skills in English, but not in Spanish. These students have a very high level of Spanish speaking, listening and comprehension, but cannot read and write the language. The hope is to offer these students courses that are specifically designed to give native Spanish speakers literacy skills, earlier, in middle school, allowing them to access Dual Language content courses in high school. "In my opinion, if we start that process earlier, getting students taking heritage level classes, gaining literacy skills in Spanish, it would improve middle school engagement and participation. And hopefully, by their freshmen year, they can step right into the dual language courses at the high school level," says Tymon Emch, Dual Language Science teacher at Beaverton High School.

"Anytime you are raising the status of the minority language, you are promoting a positive self-esteem, the growth mindset, the grit and as a result, there is a correlation with academic achievement," says Amaya.

The third demographic who would benefit from a Dual Language Program at the high school level is the newcomer student. The student who has recently immigrated to the United States, who has had educational experience in their native country, but have little to no English skills.  The Dual Language Program at the high school level allows these students to earn high school credit while developing their English language skills.

"The combination of students in the Dual Language Program at the high school level is very powerful. You have the dual language feeder students who have been in the program since elementary school, who are very familiar with the academic world, but sometimes their Spanish needs to be developed and you have the newcomers who don't necessarily have that academic experience, but they are language experts. These demographics really complement each other. We are exposing all students to high-level, academic Spanish at the same time delivering high-level content, preparing them for college and career," says Emch.