Dear Co-Chair Roblan, Co-Chair Smith Warner and members of the Joint Committee on Student Success,
In your hearing and local discussions in Woodburn, please find out how well the local school districts are serving their Hispanic students and what could be done to improve those services. Please ask the following questions.
- How successful are the current, existing Spanish dual language immersion programs? Where are more Spanish dual language immersion programs needed?
- What efforts are they making to get more Hispanic teachers? And to get Spanish bilingual teachers? Both Woodburn and Salem-Keizer school districts have “pipeline” programs with local colleges to develop Hispanic high school students into teachers. How well are these programs working? How many Hispanics teachers are these efforts producing? What could be done to increase the numbers of Hispanic teachers these programs produce?
(A) Hispanics in Marion County schools
Hispanic students comprised 39.1% of students in Marion County in 2015-16. Statewide in 2015-16, Hispanic students comprised 22.5% of students.
There are three school districts in Marion County with majorities of Hispanic students (Woodburrn, 80.2%; Gervais, 67.8%; and Mt. Angel, 51.8%). There are 24 elementary schools (17 in Salem-Keizer) with majorities of Hispanic students or, in the case of St Marys in Mt. Angel, more Hispanic students than White students.
The Hispanic students in Marion County (2015-16) comprised 18.2% of statewide Hispanic students (23,527 of 129,410).
Map: Salem-Keizer School District: Majority Hispanic elementary schools in green.
(B) More Spanish Dual Language Immersion programs needed in Marion County schools
Note that two school districts had Hispanic majorities and no Spanish dual language immersion programs (Gervais, 67.8%, Mt. Angel, 51.8%). And the North Marion School District had one school (North Marion, 51.3%) with a Hispanic majority and no Spanish dual language immersion program.
The two largest school districts in Marion County have Spanish dual language immersions programs. In my 2013-14 statewide count, 71.1% (386) of kindergarteners in the Woodburn School District were in Spanish dual language immersion programs (and another 9.4% in a Russian dual language immersion program).
Salem-Keizer had bilingual programs in 20 elementary schools that served 25.6% of its kindergarteners in 2013-14. Three were standard Spanish dual langauge immersion program with a mix of English-native and Spanish-native students. 4.4% of Salem-Keizer’s kindergarteners were in these dual langauge immersion programs in 2013-14. And additional 17 elementary schools had “Literacy Squared” bilingual programs for Spaniush-native, English-learning students. 21.2% of Salem-Keizer’s students were in these “Literacy Squared” programs in 2013-14. Salem-Keizer’s “Literacy Squared” kindergarteners were 1.6% of statewide kindergarteners and 22.3% of statewide kindergarteners in Spanish bilingual immersion programs.
(C) More Hispanic teachers needed in Marion County schools
School districts in Marion County lack significant numbers of Hispanic teachers. The percentages of Hispanic teachers is far lower than the percentages of Hispanic students. In Mt. Angel’s K-3 grades, 46% of the students are Hispanic and there are no Hispanic teachers. In Gervais, there are 68% Hispanic students, 10% Hispanic teachers. In Salem-Keizer, it is 40% Hispanic students, 8% Hispanic teachers. And in Woodburn, it is 79% Hispanic students, 29% Hispanic teachers.
(D) More Hispanic teachers needed statewide
The shortage of Hispanic teachers in Marion County is part of a statewide shortage of Hispanic teachers.
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).
(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.