Identify Research-Based Program Reflection Systems
Develop systems to provide ongoing feedback on dual language (DL) program implementation, student academic achievement, and student language development to guide program improvement efforts toward students developing high levels of biliteracy and replicating the academic achievement results found in the research literature.
One of the greatest challenges in a DL program is identifying where the program is with regards to the development of the students’ biliteracy and the trajectory toward replicating the high academic achievement from the research literature. Developing and implementing a DL program and student progress reflection systems will allow the DL leadership team and other interested stakeholders to annually identify areas of strength as well as areas for growth in the DL program and the students’ academic and language development progress. Goals can then be set to move several of the areas for growth to areas of strength during the next academic year.
Dual Language Program Reflection System
We recommend that you design a DL program reflection system based on the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education, 3rd Edition, or a state-designed DL program implementation rubric (such as the Texas Education Agency’s Dual Language Immersion Program Implementation Rubric1 and Scoring Tool2) that is based on DL research.
In the Guiding Principles, there is a tool that can be used to reflect upon the DL program in Appendix A. As recommended in the Guiding Principles, focus on one or two strands each year. At the end of the first year of implementation, for instance, you along with the DL Leadership Team may want to consider reflecting on Strand 1: Program Structure. After identifying and celebrating areas of strength in implementing the recommendations from the Guiding Principles, select 1 or 2 areas for growth to focus on for thee next school year. Be strategic! Choose areas for growth that will have the greatest impact on the quality of the DL program.
At the end of the second year of implementation, you and the DL Leadership Team can again reflect on the one or two areas that were targeted for growth and celebrate the progress made in moving them to areas of strength. At that time, a new strand should be selected to reflect on to identify new areas of focus for the following year. Thus, the cycle of reflection, focusing on one to two areas for growth, revisiting those areas after a year of strategic focus, and then moving on to a new strand, first gathering baseline data, identifying areas of strength and areas for growth to focus on for the next academic year, continues. You may want to consider providing feedback on the implementation of the DL program (including areas of strengths and the one or two areas of growth that will be the focus for the upcoming year) to site staff, district administration, community, and the school board at least once per year.
Remember, the goal is to align your DL program as much as possible with the recommendations from the Guiding Principles or your state’s research-based DL reflection rubric to ensure the best DL program to support students’ development of high levels of biliteracy and academic achievement.
Dual Language Student Progress Reflection System
We also recommend that you design a DL student progress reflection system to monitor student language development in English and the partner language as well as their academic achievement. We recommend providing feedback on language development and academic achievement in both languages to site staff, district administration, and the school board at least once per year
Language Development in English and the Partner Language
The Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education, 3rd Edition, recommends that all students in DL programs have the opportunity to be assessed in English and the partner language regardless of their first language so that you and the DL Leadership Team can reflect upon the development of biliteracy in each student and in the program overall to make informed, strategic decisions as you seek to move the DL program forward.
Although English Learners are to be assessed annually in English language development and the district reports their progress to the state, teachers and families alike will want to know how all the students, including native English-speakers, are doing in their English language development as well as their development in the partner language, including those who are native speakers of the partner language.
Working with the Assessment and Accountability division in your district, as well as the Curriculum and Instruction team, identify the current language development assessments used in the district for each language at each grade level. If there are any assessments needed for either language, work with the DL Leadership Team to identify what additional language development assessments to consider acquiring, even if the DL program has not yet reached all the grade levels at the elementary level.
It is important to note that language development assessments should assess all four language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Often, language arts assessments focus on reading and writing and only report out scores in those two areas. The assessments chosen for English and the partner language need to assess all four domains and provide a separate score for each to reflect upon. Remember, the first domains that typically develop when learning a new language are listening and speaking. Teachers can strategically build upon these strengths to move the students to higher levels of proficiency in reading and writing, so it will be instructive to have scores in each of the four language domains available. Families will also appreciate knowing how their students are progressing in English and the partner language.
Academic Achievement in English and the Partner Language
It will also be important to assess student academic achievement by content area by grade level (through the end of elementary school, even though your DL program is not yet there) in the language the content area is taught in at each grade level. The language allocation plan will inform the DL Leadership Team as to which content areas are taught in English and which are taught in the partner language at each grade level.
Working with the Assessment and Accountability division in your district, as well as the Curriculum and Instruction team, identify the current assessments used in the district for each content area in each language and at each grade level as per the language allocation plan. If there are any assessments needed across languages, content areas, and grade levels, work with the DL Leadership Team to identify what additional assessments to consider acquiring, even if the DL program has not yet reached all the grade levels at the elementary level.
Analyzing and reflecting upon the results from the DL Student Progress Reflection System should be an annual agenda item for the DL Leadership Team. Be sure to celebrate the students’ growth in their development of English and the partner language, as well as their growing achievement levels across content areas and languages as they progress through the grade levels. Identify areas that may benefit from additional support to move students further in their language development and/or academic achievement in English and/or the partner language.