As we count down to the Big Give, we are sharing stories of how IDRA stands for children and youth by intersecting research, policy advocacy, school practice, and family and community engagement. Here are examples...
One significant group of students who often get left on the sideline are emergent bilingual students. The students have so much to offer their schools and communities with the capacity to be bilingual and biliterate and to share their languages and cultures with their fellow students. Yet, they are often in underfunded school programs that do not support their academic achievement, with underqualified teachers who are ill-equipped to track their progress.
Leading National Research
IDRA has conducted evaluations of school district bilingual education departments, analyzed data and studied effective programs and strategies. For example, we examined exemplary bilingual education programs in schools across the nation and identified the 25 common characteristics that contribute to high academic performance of emergent bilingual students.
Building School Capacity
Informed by our research and through our equity assistance center, the IDRA EAC-South, we have, for example, helped southern Arkansas assess rural districts’ needs to serve its new emergent bilingual population, worked with school district leaders in the two urban areas in Oklahoma where schools serve students representing more than 70 language groups, and helped 2,000 teachers in South Carolina build their capacity and become bilingual certified. And IDRA created one of the country’s first curricula set for bilingual early childhood education in the 1970s and followed it up with today’s highly-popular Semillitas de Aprendizaje supplemental curriculum.
Equipped with research, family input and our on-the-ground experience in schools, IDRA helped get Texas' first bilingual education bill passed and continues to push for full funding of emergent bilingual education. In the last Texas legislative session alone, we led the state to change terminology from the deficit -minded “limited English proficient” and even “English learner” to “emergent bilingual” students to honor the assets these children bring. We also worked with partners to establish certification for bilingual special education teachers. One of IDRA’s staff experts was named to the State Board for Educator Certification’s standards advisory committee that is convening this fall.
Your donation will help us ensure emergent bilingual students receive a strong education!