By: Kris Nichols
One of the greatest challenges that secondary dual language immersion (DLI) programs face with regard to their sustainability is negotiating the placement of DLI courses on the Master Schedule for the upcoming year.
With the many programs that are offered at the secondary level, DLI faces stiff competition for Master Schedule consideration. However, one thing that will be an absolute threat to the sustainability of a program is not giving the DLI courses priority when developing the Master Schedule.
Given that, in most states, a special credential or authorization is required to teach in the partner language, the strategic early assignment of these teachers to the DLI courses in the Master Schedule is important so that they do not get assigned to other courses that will limit their availability to teach the DLI courses.
One argument that is posited to justify the low priority for the assignment of DLI courses is that the cohort of students needing the courses is often small. However, if the placement of the DLI courses in the Master Schedule is not prioritized, retention of students in the secondary DLI program will decrease rapidly, as the conflicts with other courses will put them in the position of having to decide between the DLI program and the program(s) associated with the course(s) that conflict with the course(s) they need to take to remain in the DLI program.
Some suggestions for negotiating the Master Schedule:
- Develop a DLI course plan with stakeholders for each grade level in middle/junior high school and high school.
- Remember to continue to be a DLI program, at least two courses need to be offered in the partner language each semester at each grade level: language arts and another content course, with the goal of attaining the Seal of Biliteracy (in states where it has been adopted).
- Additional guidance can be found in the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education, 3rd Edition
- Get feedback from DLI teachers and students as well as academic counselors as to how the current year’s schedule of DLI courses worked for them and the students.
- Revise the DLI course plan if needed based on feedback from DLI teachers, students, and academic counselors.
- Connect early in the school year with those responsible for the Master Schedule development. Respectfully remind them of the DLI courses that need to be taught at each grade level (and of any revisions that may have been made) and offer to provide whatever assistance you can to support the Master Schedule development process.
- Assist with the student recruitment process. It’s never too early to start! Speaking with families interested in enrolling their students in DLI programs in kindergarten and sharing the district’s plan to provide a DLI program all the way through high school will help with student retention.
- Having more students continue on in the DLI program will provide greater incentive for prioritization of the DLI courses in the development of the Master Schedule!
Kris Nicholls, Ph.D.
CEO, Nicholls Educational Consulting