New CPS dual language program shows promise, faces challenges

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In a three-part series, Kalyn Belsha reports in Hoy on a new dual language program in CPS that builds on research showing the children who speak and write in more than one language show increased cognitive development, improved social relations, and ultimately better employment opportunities.

Because the articles are published in Spanish, we are posting English translations below the fold here.

A dual language pilot program in four schools, with outreach to another dozen schools where similar efforts are under way, represents an ambitious attempt to overhaul the district’s approach to bilingual and world language education – a departure from the single goal of proficiency in English.

CPS has 64,000 English-learning students, but native English speakers benefit from dual language instruction as well, research shows.

Previous dual language programs fell short by aiming at “early exit,” while it takes five to seven years to master two languages. At that point many dual language students begin to outperform English-only students, research shows.

So dual language programs require patience from administrators who are under pressure to produce higher test scores more quickly.

With no standardized test that measures bilingual achievement, dual language teachers now use a hodge-podge of independent assessment measures that take time from instruction and make it hard to compare data.

The State of Illinois is developing Spanish-language standards and assessments, but that is expected to take several years.

Meanwhile, with a new administration at CPS and continuing budget problems, the district’s long-term commitment to dual language programs remains to be seen.  While federal stimulus funds that launched the pilot program have expired, the district has increased some funding for the program (while cutting professional development) – and has extended the pilot program at two schools.

Belsha’s three articles follow:

CPS takes another go-round at expanding dual language programs

By Kalyn Belsha

It’s a Tuesday afternoon in May at Calmeca Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Language and 32 kindergarteners are sponge-painting seahorses — though they also call them “caballitos de mar.”

The group is completing a thematic unit on the ocean this week, learning vocabulary and concepts in both Spanish and English as part of the school’s newly implemented dual language program. The model divides instruction time between the two languages — starting with more Spanish in the early grades and working up to a 50-50 split by 5th grade. The goal is that that the students become bilingual and literate in both languages.

“I know five languages,” 6-year-old Moureen Mohammad says as she works.

“Chinese, English, Spanish, Arabic…” She hesitates. “I need one more. I forgot. Spanish!”

Mohammad is learning English and Spanish in her dual language classroom, Arabic at home and Mandarin three times a week as part of Calmeca’s world language program. She speaks so many languages, she herself miscounts them.

She’s part of a cohort of young students Chicago Public Schools (CPS) hopes will gain a competitive edge by learning more than one language at school, most notably by mastering “heritage” languages they’re exposed to at home, but not at an academic level. Studies show students who speak and write in more than one language show increased cognitive development, improved social relationships, better employment opportunities and higher wages.

Calmeca’s dual language program is part of an ambitious initiative attempting to overhaul the district’s approach to bilingual and world language education. At the forefront is a significant departure from what used to be the singular goal of public school language education: proficiency in English.

The seeds of the initiative were planted five years ago, when a commission of teachers, principals, bilingual education experts and two members of the Board of Education got together to evaluate language education at CPS. They recommended ways to close the achievement gap between English speakers and the district’s now more than 64,000 English-language learners.

After reviewing district data and language education best practices, the commission issued a comprehensive report in November 2010 that said English-language learners needed “opportunities to formally develop their ability to read, write, speak and think critically at high levels in English and their home language,” adding many instructional methods work equally well on both English-language learners and English speakers.

The commission recommended allocating more funding to language education and supporting language education models with the goal of bilingualism, citing dual language as the proven “most effective… for developing bilingual-biliterate students.”

That recommendation is based on research that shows students who were in a dual language program score higher on English reading standardized tests than students who were in programs that transitioned earlier to all English.

“If students do not have these opportunities,” the report warned, “we risk dire consequences for them and wasted resources for the city.”

Renewed support

Dual language education is not new to CPS. In the 1970s, Inter-American Magnet School, now in Lakeview, was one of the first schools in the country to embrace the teaching model.

But the new CPS initiative marks the first time in a decade the district is trying, in earnest, to grow and support schools with dual language programs.

In 2009, the district started a dual language pilot program at four predominantly Latino and low-income schools with large English-language learner populations — Whittier Elementary in Pilsen, Rachel Carson Elementary in Gage Park, Calmeca in Brighton Park and Volta Elementary in Albany Park — offering money and guidance to start new dual language programs or tweak existing ones.

When the pilot began, two then-members of the Board of Education — Clare Muñana and Alberto Carrero — were vocal proponents of the dual language model. And the district also had financial support: the Chicago Community Trust gave money to support the planning phase of the initiative and to fund trips to conferences and dual language classrooms in states like California, New Mexico and Texas.

Federal stimulus dollars were used to help the pilot schools buy classroom materials, hire a coordinator to oversee the dual language program for two years, educate teachers about dual language and compensate them for new curriculum planning.

And, perhaps most important, for the first time in a decade, the Office of Language and Cultural Education hired a coordinator to oversee dual language education.

Their pick, Olivia Mulcahy, is uncharacteristically well-suited for her job. Mulcahy practices what she preaches, as she herself is bilingual and multicultural, coming from Irish-Mexican-American roots. She’s outspoken and has the tenacity of a veteran dual language teacher, having spent a decade at Telpochcalli Elementary in Little Village. For her, dual language isn’t a pie-in-the-sky philosophy: Her own daughter is learning English and Spanish at Inter-American.

She says she’s going to do everything in her power to sustain CPS’s commitment to dual language for the long haul.

“It was never about just a boutique little pilot,” Mulcahy said at in interview in her office. She is wearing earrings that look like green steps — sacred “kiva” ruins in New Mexico — that reveal her appreciation for other cultures. “It was always about how do we build models and have some effect on how language and literacy is looked at across the board.”

Learning from the past

This initiative isn’t the first time CPS has attempted to start up new dual language programs.

In 1998, there was another dual language initiative based out of an office that oversaw early childhood education. CPS started programs at 29 schools, from pre-kindergarten to second grade. But it was hard to oversee a pilot at so many schools, each with different support systems and demographics.

“We had a lot of professional development, we received a lot of resources, and then after that year, that was kind of it,” said Laura Sierra, who was a dual language second-grade teacher at Carson during the pilot in the ‘90s and later became the dual language coordinator for the school during the pilot that started in 2009.

Despite the district’s hope these early dual language programs would continue on into older grades, Carson’s program — as well as programs at other schools — never moved beyond second grade. This kind of program is known as “early-exit” and contrasts with research that shows children in dual language programs need five to seven years to develop their language skills.

Sierra said she knew she should have been giving her students more Spanish-language instruction, but she felt pressured to prepare them for third grade, when they’d be transitioned into classes taught only in English.

“It was hard because we were on our own until this initiative came on,” Sierra said of the pilot that started in 2009. “It just opened up my eyes, knowing we really had not been doing it the way it should have been done.”

Those who worked with CPS on past dual language initiatives say this time around, the district’s approach differs in a few key ways. Fewer schools were selected based on their ability to actually implement and sustain dual language programs through higher grade levels and coordinators were put in place to oversee the implementation.

Mulcahy met with the four pilot schools’ dual language coordinators on a regular basis to provide professional development, explaining how they could create leadership teams that could absorb their duties once stimulus funding ran out.

Mulcahy also identified a network of about a dozen CPS schools — some with established programs, others with the vestiges of dual language programs from the ‘90s — and offered them funding for classroom materials, curriculum planning and out-of-state conference slots. That way, schools with dual language programs outside the pilot would know who to turn to for advice.

“What I didn’t want to do is say, ‘This is an exclusive club, if you don’t meet the criteria we’re not going to deal with you,’” Mulcahy said.

Challenges persist

Bilingual education experts say it’s difficult to judge CPS’s long-term commitment to dual language just yet, given the relatively new administration and a $712 million budget deficit that necessitated many cuts for this academic year.  This year the Office of Language and Cultural Education received $5.3 million more than it spent last year, thanks in part to the district declaring world language programs a priority investment.  But there was a $1.9 million cut in professional development funding for the dual language pilot program staffers, an almost two-thirds decrease.

Besides overall funding, there are other ways to gauge the district’s support for dual language, according to Sonia Soltero, the director of bilingual-bicultural education director at DePaul University.

The first is whether the district continues to staff the dual language coordinator in central office. So far, despite administrative reshuffling, that position has remained in tact. And in a surprise move, funding from central office for two dual language coordinator positions — at Volta and Whittier — were extended one year beyond the pilot program.

Soltero, who served as an outside consultant to CPS during both the most recent and previous dual language initiatives, says commitment level also can be gleaned from the kinds of instructional materials the district supports and how much effort is put into teaching principals about education models that encourage bilingualism.

Apart from these outside factors, dual language is also challenged by something at the core of the program: There’s no clear-cut definition at the district level of what a dual language program is.

It’s something Mulcahy aims to fix by late spring of this year by issuing a rubric that will outline the “non-negotiables” of dual language and publishing a CPS handbook that offers tips on how to start new programs. There will be some sort of accountability structure in place, she said, to prevent schools from using the dual language label that don’t meet the criteria.

Though she’s still working on the definition, Mulcahy says dual language programs must last long enough for children to master both languages, English- and Spanish-speaking students must be integrated for a significant part of the school day and culture must be a significant part of the curriculum. It’s possible in the future students and teachers will be “coded” as part of a dual language program, so it shows up on diplomas and is taken into consideration during hiring and layoffs.

“What I want to avoid is programs trying to fit the model to the detriment of the program fitting the kids,” Mulcahy said. She says CPS’s definition of dual language will include programs with a majority of English speakers, a majority of Spanish speakers and an equal mix of both.

“In schools where you have an ever-changing mix of (students who speak different languages), she said, “that’s where we really need to be flexible.”


Standardized testing a hindrance to dual language programs

By Kalyn Belsha

In recent years, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has shown increased support for “additive” models of bilingual education — those that teach English and also develop a native language — in order to close the achievement gap between English-language learners and their peers.

In part, this move comes after a CPS bilingual education commission issued a report in November 2010 that found programs with the goal of bilingualism were more effective at helping English-language learners develop language proficiency and overall academic success than those that transition to all English.

One of the additive models that is gaining traction at the district level is dual language, a program in which students are taught to be bilingual and literate in two languages over the course of several years.

There are at least a dozen schools that offer dual language programs in CPS, all of which are currently in English and Spanish, though the children who enroll come from linguistically diverse backgrounds. Bilingual education experts support the model because they say the children learn from each other and build cross-cultural competence

But in order for such programs to truly expand throughout the district, how students in dual language programs are tested and how data is gathered about the district’s more than 64,000 English-language learners — who make up 15.8 percent of CPS students — needs to change dramatically, education experts say.

“Our teachers were practically in tears because they couldn’t teach,” said Guadalupe Sandoval, the dual language coordinator at Volta Elementary in Albany Park, referring to the past school year. “They were constantly assessing.”

Many dual language educators say district- and state-mandated achievement and language proficiency tests don’t accurately portray what their students are learning, especially in the Spanish language. In absence of comprehensive tests, they’re left with a hodgepodge of assessments to determine their students’ progress, often limiting instruction time.

“We’re doing exponentially greater work than a monolingual school,” said Jill Sontag, the dual language coordinator at Whittier Elementary, a dual language school in Pilsen. “Because it’s the academics, but it’s also the language proficiency. There’s a big difference between what we have to do and what our teachers are doing.”

Testing 1-2-3

In its report, the bilingual education commission emphasized an “urgent need” for better data collection and analysis of English-language learners, noting that current data is limited to enrollment figures, identification of students’ native language and English proficiency.

The commission recommended that CPS measure English-language learners’ proficiency in English and their native language and their progress over time to help the district make “data-driven decisions” about language education.

The problem with that suggestion is that there is no standardized test that evaluates native language proficiency, which for 87 percent of English-language learners in CPS is Spanish. The commission recommended that the district develop or adopt a standardized test to determine proficiency in languages such as Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin, but CPS has yet to do so.

Since 2008, English-language learners have taken the ISAT starting in 3rd grade, which measures their academic knowledge in subjects such as reading, math and science.

Before that, English-language learners in Illinois took another test, the IMAGE, which was also in English, but with simpler language and more pictures. The U.S. Department of Education ruled the test had to be changed because it was not comparable to the ISAT and the state made plans to develop a new test, but English-language learners are taking the ISAT in the meantime.

Because different groups of students have been required to take different tests from year-to-year and the ISAT doesn’t record which type of bilingual program a student participated in, it’s “almost impossible” to correlate long-term achievement data for English-language learners, the commission’s report said. The commission suggested that the district work with a university or testing organization to develop data systems for long-term analysis of these students, which has yet to be realized.

Beyond data collection problems, teachers and principals say the ISAT is simply not the best way to test English-language learners, whose limited English skills often prevent them from doing well on a test that measures their knowledge in content areas. In the 2010 school year, less than a quarter of CPS students in bilingual education programs met or exceeded ISAT reading standards, compared with about three-quarters of their English-speaking peers.

It’s not ideal for dual language programs either, since they often follow a model that teaches mostly Spanish in the early grades, and work up to an even split of English and Spanish after a few years.

“Our kids don’t do that well,” said Zoila Garcia, the principal at Whittier, of the ISAT. “Especially in third grade, they might even do worse than other program models, because their exposure to English has been less.”

Research shows it takes about five to seven years to demonstrate mastery of a second language, which is when dual language students usually catch up to — or outperform — their English-only peers on standardized tests.

But many administrators don’t want to wait that long to see their students perform well on state tests, which has been a hindrance to the spread of the dual language model throughout the district.

“Literacy in their first language will make their English literacy stronger and deeper and, over time, better,” says Olivia Mulcahy, who oversees dual language at the district level, of English-language learners. “What people aren’t willing to do is invest the time. They want to see it by third grade.”

Managing instruction time

English-language learners are mandated by the state to take the ACCESS test, which measures their English language proficiency. But neither the ACCESS nor the ISAT looks at Spanish language proficiency or mastery of academic content in Spanish.

So dual language schools end up choosing other independent tests to measure student progress, or creating their own tools. And because language proficiency spans four areas — speaking, listening, reading and writing — there is a lot to test.

Dual language educators say the extra time they spend testing their students takes away from instruction time.

“The challenge that teachers face now is: How do you manage district and mandated tests that may not really be the best tools to inform your instruction?” said Vernita Vallez, the principal at Inter-American, a dual language school in Lakeview. “We need to do those tests and then we still are left with the need to assess what we’re teaching. They (the teachers) are sometimes doing double or three times as much.”

For example, at Calmeca Academy, a dual language school in Brighton Park, kindergarten, first and second grade teachers use a basic early literacy assessment in Spanish that looks at how a child identifies letters, sounds and word fluency. The teacher administers the test one-on-one with a small electronic palm device, often while the rest of the class works independently in small groups. It’s a time-consuming process, especially when class size tops 30 students.

The independent tests that dual language schools use aren’t perfect, and because each area chooses its own tests, schools can’t always compare data with each other. And as research and tests improve, CPS dual language schools are constantly looking for ways to better assess Spanish literacy — which means taking time to pilot new tests and training teachers how to administer them.

Testing bilingualism

In addition to tests mandated by the state, district and a school’s area, dual language teachers often create their own tools to measure their students’ academic and language progress.

By its nature, dual language is a flexible program that changes to suit the student population. Dual language educators note that in the past their students were mostly dominant in Spanish, but now they see more children entering school with strong English skills, already bordering on the verge of bilingual.

That constant demographic flux means dual language teachers frequently reevaluate and change their curriculum. Because in dual language assessment is strongly tied to instruction, dual language teachers spend a lot of time designing and updating “authentic” assessments to measure what their students are learning, says Whittier’s Sontag.

“I personally prefer to use rubrics and checklists and anecdotes — that gives me much more concrete information,” she says. “We’re not talking about data and big numbers.”

For example, she says, to look at language development she might listen to students talking to each other or give an assignment that necessitates the use of vocabulary words being taught in class, then score each child using a rubric she designed for that activity.

Of course, that data is difficult to compare from year-to-year and with other schools. But there is hope that dual language programs in Illinois — and other programs that work with English-language learners — will eventually be able to use a more standardized approach to testing Spanish language proficiency.

In October 2010 the Illinois State Board of Education, in conjunction with the nonprofit WIDA Consortium, won a federal grant to develop Spanish language standards and a matching proficiency assessment. (Standards for academic progress in Spanish language arts already exist in Illinois, but there is no corresponding test. Experts abandoned this in favor of focusing on developing proficiency standards.)

It’s a “fairly technical and careful process,” says Mary Fergus, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education. A draft of the standards isn’t due to the federal government until summer, she said, so it will be some time before an assessment is available for piloting. (Though Illinois is among several states slated to test out the assessment when it’s ready.)

As those standards are being drafted, bilingual education experts caution that a Spanish language proficiency test that doesn’t have a “bilingual standard” would be a problem.

“We have an assessment in English that tells us our students are weak in English, and that’s the ACCESS,” said John Hilliard, who specializes in dual language education at the Illinois Resource Center, an agency that helps language teachers. “We don’t need an assessment in Spanish to tell us the same thing: That they’re weak in Spanish.”

Mulcahy in CPS’s central office envisions a bilingual standard that would give students credit on a Spanish language proficiency test when they “do things that are linguistically complex but don’t register as correct on monolingual paradigms.” In essence, they would receive credit for “Spanglish.”

Such a Spanish test would be welcome in dual language schools not only to save teachers time, but to establish the importance of the Spanish language.

“There’s a great deal of worry about what a huge impact standardized testing done entirely in English (has) when trying to espouse the importance of bilingualism,” says Josie Yanguas, who directs the Illinois Resource Center.

Inter-American’s Vallez says she and her teachers think “all the time” about how to counter standardized testing in English with “important and serious things in Spanish.”

“Spanish and English need to have the same integrity otherwise students think one is less important,” Vallez says. “You compromise cognitive development with that kind of dynamic.”


Uncertain future for dual language programs in CPS

By Kalyn Belsha

At Calmeca Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Language it’s hard to walk the hallways without noticing the walls. Student work written in Spanish and English is hung everywhere. Colorful posters with phrases like “Dos idiomas, una ventana abierta al mundo” are displayed to encourage students, who are mostly Latino and low-income, hailing from the Brighton Park neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

As a dual language school, instruction time here is divided between Spanish and English — with more Spanish in the earlier years, working up to an even split by 5th grade — with the goal that students become bilingual and biliterate.

The education model is new at Calmeca, which was among four elementary schools to participate in a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) pilot program that received federal stimulus money in 2009 to work on a dual language program

The pilot is part of an ambitious CPS initiative to bridge the achievement gap between the district’s almost 64,000 English-language learners, who represent 15.8 percent of all students, and English speakers. To do that, CPS is gradually moving away from programs that transition into English in the early grades and supporting programs like dual language that help students develop proficiency in more than one language.

CPS hopes to do this largely by maintaining “heritage” languages learned at home — which is Spanish for 87 percent of English-language learners in CPS — but aren’t being mastered at an academic level. The push is based on studies that show students proficient in more than one language show increased cognitive development, improved social relationships, better employment opportunities and higher wages.

But in Chicago, how a school teaches its English-language learners isn’t mandated from the top down. It’s up to local schools to determine which model is right for them.

So even as the district expresses support for dual language, bilingual education experts caution that a school — and its principals, teachers and parents — must be ready for the model before rushing to implement a new program.

“You have to have the individuals who truly believe in it, wholeheartedly,” said Frances Garcia, the principal at Calmeca. “You can’t impose it on a school that doesn’t have that belief system.”

Educating parents

Of the four schools selected for participation in the CPS pilot program, two are starting dual language programs from scratch, beginning with younger grades, then rolling out more on a year-to-year basis.

The lessons CPS learns from the implementation of these programs will be used in a dual language handbook the district plans to issue in late spring of this year. The handbook will offer tips on how to start a new program and clear up confusion over what defines a dual language program by offering guidelines of the model’s “non-negotiables.” For example, children who speak speak different languages must be integrated for a significant portion of the day and the program must span at least five years.

Certainly the pilot schools can advise new schools on what needs to happen to usher in dual language. First, you need the buy-in of administrators and teachers. Then, you have to educate parents about the model — a lengthy, difficult process.

Pilot school Volta Elementary in Albany Park saw that firsthand.

“The first year there was a lot of suspicion, a lot of concerns, especially from the Spanish-speaking parents (who were) not sure that they wanted their child in that kind of a program,” said the school’s principal Ted Johnson. “Now this year, it’s completely the opposite, parents are requesting to have their child there,” he said of 2010-2011 school year.

Guadalupe Sandoval, Volta’s dual language coordinator, says she spent a lot of time educating parents in 2010. She held informational sessions at the pre-schools that feed into Volta. She passed out flyers in the neighborhood, which is known for being the most diverse in Chicago. It was a difficult sell. But “at the end of the year, no one was complaining,” she said.

In Brighton Park, Calmeca teachers and administrators saw similar reactions. The first year they adjusted the kindergarten curriculum to provide more English because worried parents thought their children were learning too much in Spanish.

But after the program’s first year, Calmeca educators had evidence to show parents new to the school. Parents with kids already in the program testified at meetings about the linguistic growth they’d seen at home. The school showed parents video tapes of lessons to demonstrate how teachers use visual cues to switch between languages. For example, a pre-K teacher talks to her kids in English with a frog puppet. When they answer her in Spanish, the frog gently reminds them it’s time for English.

Convincing parents can also be difficult because research shows it takes until middle school for dual language students to perform better on English reading tests than those who transition earlier to all-English classes.

“It’s a program that some people might not want to take a chance on,” Garcia said, “because there’s still that fear that ‘What if the kids don’t excel?’”

A lesson in culture

Overseeing a program with a long-term goal that can be at odds with yearly standardized testing isn’t easy. But Garcia is a former English-language learner herself, who sees dual language as the chance to give her students the kind of support she didn’t get when she was a young student in CPS.

“English-language learners come to the school with a gift, already having a knowledge base in one language,” she says. “And for us not recognize it and use it to (our) advantage is a huge waste.”

Understanding and celebrating culture plays a big role in dual language programs, so much so that when CPS issues a handbook on the model, it plans to require a cultural component in the curriculum.

The thinking is, according to a 2010 CPS bilingual education report: “When schools value students’ home language and culture, it helps English-language learners develop self-confidence and positive attitudes towards school; as a result, they succeed more often in school.”

Garcia takes that to heart. As a dance teacher, she stays after school all year to help students choreograph a folkloric performance for their parents in May. On that day in 2011, rhythmic tunes from Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic filled the gymnasium, as Calmeca students clapped and spun on stage, clad in flowing skirts and sombreros.

When the curtain opened for the cha cha cha number, Garcia emerged smiling in a form-fitting black dress, a tight bun holding her hair in place. Parents cheered loudly as she twirled — it’s not every day you see your principal doing a Latin dance in front of the whole school.

Teacher training

Parents are not the only ones who have to be educated about the dual language model. Teachers too, must be taught a new way of lesson planning. Dual language teachers use themes to demonstrate concepts, making connections between the two languages whenever possible. But many teachers aren’t taught the dual language model in college and have to develop those skills on the job.

“It’s a lot of work, we were afraid they wouldn’t be ready,” said Johnson of his dual language teachers at Volta. “The teachers (are) moving into the thematic unit-based curriculum as opposed to teaching from a textbook.”

As part of the pilot, CPS offered new dual language teachers paid curriculum planning time and trips to conferences and classrooms in other states to get ideas. For many, like dual language teacher Nancy Cordova at Calmeca, the process was nerve-wracking.

“I was really skeptical when I first started,” Cordova said. “I thought if I don’t get the support that I need to embark on taking this challenge… I was really afraid of failure.”

Cordova, who used to teach English-language learners as they transitioned to English, worried whether her own Spanish was at a high enough level to teach dual language. But she says watching the kids engage with her made her a believer in the model.

“When we are learning a theme and vocabulary I try to incorporate English read-alouds where they can bridge those vocabulary words onto English from the Spanish,” said Cordova. “I use movements to help them remember what the significance of the vocabulary words are or a specific concept.

She moves her hands as if she were grinding corn to demonstrate. It’s what she did for her kids when they were learning the word “metate,” the Spanish word for an Aztec tool.

“I was able to see that the type of English instruction I was providing my students before was not ideal,” she said. “It was very disengaged and disconnected from what we were learning in the classroom.”

Sustainability questions

Pilot schools received money for two years to buy classroom materials, fund a dual language coordinator position and provide teachers with professional development.

But now that the stimulus money is gone, the pilot schools are left to roll out the program to older grades without federal assistance. As part of its attempt to close a $712 million budget deficit, CPS cut professional development for the pilot program in 2012 by nearly two-thirds, to $1 million. That cut will make it difficult for new teachers taking on dual language classrooms to get the same training their peers received.

Olivia Mulcahy, who is overseeing the CPS dual language initiative, says while the pilot schools received financial assistance, it’s not impossible for other schools in CPS to start up or change dual language programs on their own. Administrators should take a year to plan, she said, and discretionary funds need to be distributed in a different way

“People have the impression that dual is a lot more money because in their heads you’re doing everything twice,” Mulcachy said. “You don’t teach everything twice and you don’t need the materials in both languages. Don’t get me wrong, school budgets are limited and people are making tough choices. But I don’t think it’s impossible.”

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