Indiana: Resources, understanding, and inclusiveness are needed for Latino students in Indiana

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Aug 29 13:10:41 UTC 2007

Resources, understanding, and inclusiveness are needed for Latino students
in Indiana
New CEEP special report outlines issues, recommendations

*August 28, 2007*

*Media Outlets: The following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU
School of Education Web site at **. Look for the
story headline under "Podcasts." A transcript of these mp3 files can be
viewed here: ** *

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Despite well-intentioned efforts and a recent influx of
funding from the Indiana General Assembly, more resources and different
tactics are needed to address the huge growth in the number of Latino
limited-English-proficiency students in the state, according to Indiana
University researchers. That's the conclusion of a special report from the
Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) at Indiana University. The
report, "Latino Language Minority Students in Indiana: Trends, Conditions,
and Challenges," concludes that schools and communities tend to segregate
and marginalize Latino students and other English language learners. While
many schools may devote most resources and time to technical mastery of
English, the report states more time should be focused on better training
for staff and broader literacy development for students.

Indiana has one of the fastest-growing populations of English language
learners (ELLs). According to the U.S. Department of Education, ELL
enrollment in the state grew 408 percent between the school years of 1994-95
and 2005-06, third-fastest among all states. ELL students have struggled to
meet expectations. Ninth-grade ELL students averaged a 67 percent passing
rate, and 10th-grade ELL students had a 66 percent passing rate on the
English/Language Arts portion of the 2006 ISTEP assessment exam.

A report co-author summed up part of the problem by noting her experience
working with some Indiana schools as a school psychologist to evaluate ELL
students. Rebecca Martinez, assistant professor of counseling and
educational psychology in the Indiana University School of Education, said
school administrators and teachers always asked if the student was
developmentally disabled. "And every single time it's been a matter not of
evaluating or ruling out cognitive impairment, but of educating the staff,"
Martinez said. The number of state-certified English as second language
(ESL) teachers is barely half the student-to-teacher ratio recommended by
the Indiana Division of Professional Standards.

More trained staff could mean students aren't relegated to the areas where
the few bilingual teachers work, such as the special education class.
Gerardo Lopez, an associate professor of education leadership and policy
studies, whose research on migrant education is cited in the report, said
the lack of staff leads to those students only being exposed to a small part
of the school. "Latino students, or any other students, really don't get to
interact with any other teacher, or any other group of educational experts
beyond those who have the linguistic capacities to work with them," Lopez

Lauren Harvey, assistant director of Language Minority and Migrant Programs
in the Indiana Department of Education and also a report co-author, agreed
that schools must have more trained personnel. "It's really important that
school corporations have qualified staff, and they have teachers not only
with a few in-services or workshops under their belt, but that they actually
have staff that has the certification or endorsement in the ESL area,"
Harvey said. "And right now, that is kind of limited in availability as far
as the number of institutes of higher education that offer the certification
and the number of teachers that actually complete it."

The IU School of Education began the Tandem Certification of Indiana
Teachers (TACIT) program five years ago to address the licensing issue.
TACIT is a federally-funded, five-semester course leading to Indiana
certification as a teacher of English as a Second Language. The program
teams with Indiana school corporations that have significant populations of
ESL students.

The U.S. Department of Education just granted the school of education on the
IUPUI campus nearly $1.5 million to prepare ESL teachers. The School of
Education at IU Southeast in New Albany, Ind., just received the
largest-ever grant for that campus -- $1 million from the U.S. Department of
Education -- to train more ESL teachers in Floyd County, Clark County and
Seymour, Ind., and will be teaming with IU Bloomington in the effort.

These efforts are consistent with the report's recommendation that state and
local governments as well as local school corporations should form stronger
partnerships with university-based resources throughout the state. The
authors also suggest Hoosiers should view newcomers as more of a resource
for learning, rather than viewing them as a "problem," and expand efforts to
build cultural competency. Some ideas proposed include more study abroad
programs and dual immersion Spanish-English schools, or programs within
individual schools, which could help students and community members
understand the cultures newcomers come from.

"You have the myth that students just need to learn English, and they'll be
okay, and you can just learn English by being immersed in the context,"
co-author Peter Cowan, assistant professor of language education, said. "And
it's a lot more complicated than that."

*The full report may be viewed at *

CEEP promotes and supports rigorous program evaluation and policy research
primarily, but not exclusively, for education, human services and non-profit
organizations. Its research uses both quantitative and qualitative
methodologies. To learn more about CEEP, go to

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