Written testimony submitted:
To: Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education
From: Dave Porter
Subject: Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, SB 5038
Please do not approve the budget of the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission without commitments from the Commission to:
(1) Develop a separate licensing category (or categories) for dual language immersion teachers who will teach only in a foreign language and not in English.
(2) Use credentialing tests only in the appropriate foreign languages for dual language immersion teachers who will not be teaching in English.
(3) Allow potential dual language immersion teachers from foreign counties to get licenses without the involvement of a local school district.
(4) Allow potential dual language immersion teachers from foreign counties to renew their licenses without limit.
(5) Increase alternative pathways to certification for both domestic and international sources of dual language immersion teachers.
(6) Simplify the online information on the TSPC website so that it is clear what potential dual language immersion teachers need to do to get licensed in Oregon.
Recall my 2/22/17 testimony that the 2012-15 “Study of Dual-Language Immersion in the Portland Public Schools” by RAND, the American Councils for International Education, and Portland Public Schools found that “Immersion programs as implemented in Portland appear to be a cost-effective strategy for raising English reading performance of both native English speakers and native speakers of other languages.”
Oregon has a shortage of dual language immersion teachers which is holding up the needed development of additional dual language immersion programs.
In my opinion, both the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission and the Board of Education need to rethink the credentialing and testing of dual language immersion teachers. Both should now recognize that there are different types of immersion teachers, and each type should have its own credentialing and testing requirements. One type of immersion teacher, usually found in Spanish two-way programs that begin with a 90%-10% model, teaches in both languages. They need good knowledge and skills in both languages, as well as teaching English as a second language skills. Another type of immersion teacher teaches only in a foreign language. They typically teach in one way, 50%-50% immersion programs. They are often paired with an English only teacher, often with English as a second language skills, who teaches full time in English. These foreign-language-only immersion teachers do not need to have the skills, nor be able to pass the tests, to teach in English.
The TSPC needsto recognize that Oregon needs significantly more immersion teachers now in a variety of languages and that Oregon schools of education are not in the near future going to be able to produce more bilingual immersion teachers (the first type) in sufficient numbers. Nor can we import them. Imports will often lack sufficient English skills. But Oregon could and should import more teachers (Mexico, China, for examples) who can teach only in a foreign language, and pair them with English only teachers in 50%-50% immersion models. We need a much easier and appropriate credentialing process for these imported teachers. We should not ask them to teach in English, nor to pass any credentialing tests in English. They should be restricted to teaching in the foreign language component of dual language immersion programs.
Oregon is behind Utah in the expansion of dual language immersion programs, especially in Mandarin, French, and Portuguese.