Deming District Director of Bilingual Education Michael Chavez said new data from the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment shows students in grades three through eight who began as English-language learners have progressed to “English Proficient” and are scoring on par – and sometimes higher – than their peers in mathematics and reading.
The Bilingual Education Department began in the district six years ago and has evolved to take a variety of approaches, depending on student needs, to meet its mission of closing the achievement gap.
Chavez said there are three levels within the program: students learning English, students who have learned English and are becoming more proficient with it and native English speakers who are learning Spanish.
The native English speakers in the bilingual program also showed higher NMSBA scores in grades three through five than their peers outside the program.
Chavez said many studies show that “biliteracy” helps improve a student’s cognitive abilities.
Chavez added that the bilingual department’s teaching staff uses the same materials as the mainstream classrooms, countering the misconception that the bilingual curriculum is watered down.