The National Council of La Raza has released a new report listing best practices for use by early education programs seeking to improve their services for Hispanic children and English language learners.
The civil rights group profiled four programs from around the country that are making progress and made policy recommendations for replicating those models elsewhere. According to NCLR, the programs highlighted exemplify the key areas of professional development, student assessments, language instruction and family engagement:
- Youth Development, Inc., of New Mexico. The program provides Head Start to 1,600 children, of whom about 76 percent are Latino. The organization’s professional development goes beyond federal training requirements by providing ongoing lessons throughout the year on topics such as dual-language instruction. Community college professors also lead sessions. Other supports include mentor-coaches who develop goals with beginning teachers and observe classroom instruction.
- The Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. The LAMB charter school offers dual-language classes from pre-K through fifth grade. The school has three ways of assessing children: only in their home language; in a language that the children are proficient in, even if it isn’t the home language; or both languages the children know. The school uses formal assessments such as DIBELS and informal assessments including student portfolios and weekly plans.
- East Coast Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program in southern Florida. This program with 60 sites serves primarily Mexican migrant farm worker families and focuses on providing dual-language instruction. The group developed a curriculum for toddlers and pre-K students that gradually increases the amount of English used. Learning benchmarks are used, classrooms are labeled in both English and Spanish, and home visits are conducted.
- The Concilio in Dallas. This group formed in 1981 works closely with the Dallas Independent School District to increase Hispanic parent involvement . The organization operates the Parents Advocating for Student Excellence program at 29 schools and four prekindergarten sites in the district. Past graduates of PASE recruit parents of preschool students to attend a series of 30 meetings during the school year focused around lessons and activities. Parents who participate must complete homework assignments tied to the sessions.