Dear Co-Chair Roblan, Co-Chair Smith Warner and members of the Joint Committee on Student Success,
In your hearing and local discussions in Hermiston, please find out how well the local school district are serving their Hispanic students in Morrow and Umatilla counties and whether their English native students and their local communities would benefit from more English native students learning Spanish. Please ask them the following:
- What opportunities do large Hispanic student populations present for English native students? Can local communities benefit as more English native students become bilingual in Spanish and English?
- Are there any plans to add Spanish dual language immersion programs?
- Are they familiar with the RAND-PPS study of dual language immersion programs? Of the benefits of dual language immersion to English native students? Of the benefits to Spanish native students?
- What efforts are they making to get more Hispanic teachers? To get Spanish bilingual teachers? How many Hispanics teachers will these efforts produce?
(A) Hispanics in Morrow and Umatilla counties:
In the four school district in Morrow and Umatilla counties with more Hispanic students than White students, Hispanics constitute 54.4% of total student enrollment. Across all school districts in both counties, Hispanics constitute 41.9% of total student enrollment. In the Hermiston School District, there are two elementary school with over 60% Hispanic enrollments.
I am not aware of even one Spanish dual language immersion program in either Morrow or Umatilla counties.
(B) More Spanish Dual Language Immersion programs will produce the most academic gains for Hispanics (and for English native students):
The 2015 RAND-PPS report of the “Study of Dual-Langauge Immersion in the Portland Public Schools” confirmed that Spanish DLI programs produce the most academic gains for Spanish naitve and English native students. The study includes 27,741 students who enrolled in kindergarten in Portland Public Schools in 2004-05 through 2010-11. These students’ academic performance on the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) was tracked in reading, mathematics, and science through 2013-14, meaning that the youngest cohort was tracked through grade 3, and the oldest two cohorts through grade 8. Within the sample, the main focus was on 1,625 students were randomized to immersion or a control group via Portland’s immersion pre-K and kindergarten immersion lotteries in 2004-05 through 2010-11. The study found:
The nine month gains in English reading applied to both Spanish native and English native students. Switching to Spanish dual language immersion programs in all schools for all students could raise the English reading level of all students by a full school year at eighth grade, plus making all students bilingual in Spanish and English.
(C) More Hispanic teachers needed statewide and in Morrow and Umatilla counties:
According to the “2017 Oregon Educator Equity Report,” 38.9% of Oregon students are “culturally and linguistically diverse” and 10.1% of current Oregon teachers are “culturally and linguistically diverse.” For Oregon to have a teacher workforce equal in diversity to its students, an additional 28.8% of teachers need to be “culturally and linguistically diverse.” Given a teacher workforce of about 31,040, an additional 8,934 “culturally and linguistically diverse” teachers are needed (and, correspondently, 8.934 fewer monolingual, White teachers).
Morrow and Umatilla counties:
There are imbalances between the percentages of Hispanic students and the percentages of Hispanic teachers across school districts in Morrow and Umatilla counties. From their Oregon report cards, here are race/ethnicity charts for grades K-3 students/teachers for the four school districts with high Hispanic percentages. The percentages of Hispanic K-3 students range from 55% to 74%. The range for the percentages of Hispanic K-3 teachers range from 7% to 15%. Hermiston has 55% K-3 Hispanic students and 7% K-3 Hispanic teachers. Umatilla has 74% K-3 Hispanic students and 15% K-3 Hispanic teachers. Morrow has 59% K-3 Hispanic students and 8% K-3 Hispanic teachers. And Milton-Freewater has 57% K-3 Hispanic students and 11% K-3 Hispanic teachers.
Hermiston SD 8
Umatilla SD 6
Morrow SD 1
Milton-Freewater Unified SD 7