Kilgore ISD’s English as a Second Language and bilingual programs are attracting widespread attention due to their success, according to Dan Stanley, Director of ESL/Bilingual Programs for the district.
Stanley gave a review of the programs for 2018-2019 and delivered a Bilingual Exception Report for 2019-2020 at Monday’s board meeting. The report is required annually.
Stanley opened his presentation by displaying photos of ESL students working in pairs.
“We’re showing our kiddos in each one of these pictures working in pairs because that’s what they do a lot of in our bilingual program. They work with each other and that’s what our teachers teach them to do, is work together. That’s what we do in the real world, too,” Stanley said.
Stanley said the state’s education code requires him to give the board information about the program every year, including how the students are doing in their English and Spanish proficiency.
He displayed a slide showing the percentage of students meeting the expected annual growth in STAAR reading scores in grades 3-8.
Students in fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade improved or held steady with their 2019 reading scores over their 2018 scores, while fifth-graders showed a drop in students meeting their expected annual score growth.
Fourth graders met the expectation at 29 percent, fifth grade at 41 percent, sixth grade at 31 percent, seventh grade at 47 percent and eighth grade at 54 percent.
“You can see most of our students are pretty steady with our growth measures. This is all of the limited English speakers and learners out of their grade levels. It starts with fourth grade because we’re measuring from third to fourth and what we’re looking at, from third to fourth, did they stay the same? Did they improve? We always want to know how that dual-language group is doing,” Stanley said.
The next slide indicated the percentage of fifth-grade students meeting their grade level expectations on STAAR scores.
At the district level, Kilgore fifth-grade English language learners, bilingual students and ESL students are meeting grade-level STAAR score expectations at a greater rate than similar populations in Region 7 and in the state.
44 percent of KISD fifth-grade English language learners met the expectation, 54 percent of bilingual students did the same and 26 percent of ESL students met the expectation.
“That’s a trend that we want to continue. That’s something that we’re real proud to see. We are starting to see the results that we were promised and, because of that, people are taking notice,” Stanley said, thanking the board members for supporting the bilingual and ESL programs.
The next slide indicated the percentage of elementary students that meet grade-level standards according to STAAR.
The bar on the graph indicating the KISD bilingual student population was higher or matched with the number of students hitting the “meets standard” mark in the entire Kilgore elementary population.
“It’s the highest one in third grade, in fourth grade and in fifth grade. And that’s again a trend that we want to continue,” Stanley said.
The final slide indicated the number of English language learners in the district over time.
“Our numbers are growing just a very little bit. We are just under 800 altogether with our English learners. Some campuses are up a little, some are down a little. I think it’s interesting to see that the primary school has gone down a little over the years.”
Some of these students’ teachers are certified as ESL instructors, while others have teachers who are not certified.
The goal is to get them all ESL-certified, Stanley said.
Superintendent Dr. Andy Baker asked Stanley to share the story of a recent visit to the district by educators curious to learn more about the district’s Gomez & Gomez bilingual instruction program.
“That was this year’s good news. Dr. Gomez, one of the founders of the program that we follow, was doing a training up north and had a group from Minnesota come up to him and ask, they actually have a dual-language school established, but have nothing that they follow – ‘How do we get in, how do we see somebody that’s got this already going on?’ And he said ‘Well, I only know one school that you need to go see and it’s in a little town called Kilgore, Texas.’”
Gomez gave the group Stanley’s contact information and they traveled from Minnesota to stay in Kilgore for two days two weeks ago.
“They walked through all the kindergarten, pre-K and first grade classrooms and were just shocked at the progress of our students.”