Farmersville Unified still considering bilingual classes


Farmersville Unified may pilot dual language classes in kindergarten in fall 2019

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

FARMERSVILLE – Six years after discussing the possibility of bringing dual immersion classes to its district, Farmersville Unified School District (FUSD) is finally ready to take the next step toward offering the bilingual education program.

Dr. Paul Sevillano, assistant superintendent for Farmersville Unified, gave an update during FUSD’s March 13 meeting on efforts to begin offering dual language classes. Sevillano, along with English learner coordinator Cari Eastham, formed a Dual Language Committee last year to explore implementation of the program in kindergarten at J.E. Hester Elementary, the district’s K-1 school, in the fall of 2019.

Dual Immersion integrates bilingual education by teaching Spanish and English speakers in both their native language and a second language. The idea of creating a dual immersion program was brought before the board by longtime superintendent Janet Jones in 2012. At that time, 62% of students at Hester Elementary were English learners. That number dropped to 54% in 2016-17. But while the number of ELA students entering school has dropped, the proficiency rate of English learners has not improved. In 2012, just one ELA student was considered proficient by the time they left first grade, compared with just four students last school year.

District wide, two in five students are native Spanish speakers with about two-thirds becoming proficient in English each year.

Over the last decade, FUSD teachers have observed Dual Immersion programs in Hanford, Porterville and Lindsay. Lindsay Unified School District (LUSD) was one of the first school districts in Tulare County and the Valley to implement the program. Lindsay’s progressive and successful program has been featured in a variety of education publications and on CNN since beginning in the 1990s.

About half of LUSD’s students are English learners and about one-third of ELAs become proficient in English each year. Both Lindsay and Farmersville have a much higher percentage of English learners than the County average of just 27%. In 2017, 78% of Lindsay English learners were proficient in English district wide, compared with 75% of English learners in Farmersville and 66% county wide.

In an interview after the meeting, FUSD superintendent Randy DeGraw said the committee will continue their work to develop a master plan for implementation in fall 2019.

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