The first two Dual Language Immersion classes in the Carpinteria Unified School District will begin with 48 kindergarteners at Canalino School on Aug. 22. Comprised of eight native Spanish-speaking students, eight bilingual students and eight native English-speaking students each, the two classes will be conducted 90 percent in Spanish the first year and decrease annually by 10 percent Spanish until it’s 50/50 in the fifth grade.
The benefits of DLI have been amply demonstrated in studies and outcomes in school districts across California, particularly in regard to an academic “plateau” that many native Spanish-speaking students reach early in high school. The resulting achievement gap between English-learners and native English-speaking students, in terms of graduation rates and college attendance, is greatly reduced among students who participate in DLI programs starting in elementary school. With 61 percent of kindergartners designated as English Learners in CUSD, DLI is a way to gain academic proficiency not only in English, but in Spanish as well.
“The default setting in California schools is all-English instruction,” said Dr. Carlos Pagan, director of literacy and language support for the Santa Barbara County Education Office. And while native Spanish-speaking students acquire English very rapidly, “they don’t get the cognitive development to deeply understand content,” Pagan added. Statistics show, Pagan said, that native Spanish-speaking students “go farther (academically) in DLI, and in other bilingual programs…
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