Category Archives: Education

New CPS dual language program shows promise, faces challenges

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:

West Side youth learn media production

There’s lots of talk about a longer school day for CPS, but little attention on how it actually looks to students and teachers on the ground.

That’s the subject of a new video by Tiara Nelson of the Westside Writers Project.  It’s one of several produced so far by students in WWP’s Summer Digital Workshop.

Others deal with longtime community development advocate Bill Howard; the new Richard M. Daley Library; a community planning process to create gateways to West Humboldt Park; air pollution – and particularly the effects of two nearby coal-powered plants; and the new gymnasium at Rowe-Clark Noble Charter School, with highlights from the annual student-staff basketball game.

Started in 2006 as an after-school writing project focused on producing The Ave., a community newsletter, WWP has expanded to summer and in-school programming while branching out to video podcasts.  The summer workshop – led by two students, with assistance from adults – allowed a lot more kids to get trained and experienced in new media technology.

Students chose and research subjects, developed scripts including locations, camera angles and interview questions, shot interviews, and edited their podcasts, learning about transitions, overlays, and use of text.

Still to come is a podcast on the issue of food deserts, so stay tuned!

Inside View of ‘Turnaround’ at a Bronzeville High School

The first episode of a video series on the turnaround at a Bronzeville high school airs three times this week on CAN-TV Channel 19, starting Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

The series, produced by Amandilo M. Cuzan and Bronzeville 360, looks at the experience of Wendell Phillips High School, the oldest predominantly black high school in Chicago, since the Academy of Urban School Leadership was awarded a management contract last year.

Cuzan notes that many long-time community residents view the “turnaround,” in which teachers, administrators and staff are replaced, as part of a push for gentrification following the demolition of CHA developments in the area, while other residents backed the moved in the face of steady decline in the school’s performance.  It’s the most recent of numerous interventions by the central administration, he points out.

“It’s a classic, often emotionally-charged struggle that has few easy answers,” he said

The first 30-minute episode looks at three extracurricular activities at Phillips and their impact on school-community relations: a revitalized music program; a Peace Walk down Martin Luther King Drive organized by a student and teacher; and a Parent Cafe organized by community partners to facilitate parent networking.

It airs on CAN-TV 19 on Saturday, August 13 at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, August 17 at 4 p.m., and Saturday, August 20 at 9:30 a.m.