HUDSON — The English and Portuguese dual language program at Farley Elementary School is one designed to promote bilingualism and biliteracy for all students, as well as grow positive cross-cultural relationships.
The program is possible thanks to World Language Curriculum Coordinator Ana Pimentel and Director of English Learners Education Wendy Anderson, who shared the data and assessments from their self-evaluation for the 2021-2022 school year at the Oct. 10 School Committee meeting.
According to Superintendent Brian Reagan, the information from the 2022-2023 school year is “still being processed” by the steering committee for the dual language program.
Anderson shared some general information about enrollment. From kindergarten to second grade, there are 112 students in the program with 51 of them being English Language Learners (ELL). There are also 161 students in the Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) program with 27 of them being ELLs.
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“As you know, we have only a certain number of spots in dual language, so we can’t accept all English learners,” she said.
She said it was amazing that the “vast majority” of ELL students were in the dual language program. There are six teachers in the program with two per grade level and one bilingual literacy specialist, as well as shared school psychologists and special education staff.
The program is supported by the dual language curriculum writing team, a parent advisory council (PAC), which meets four times a year, and an advisory council. With a team of curriculum experts, American Reading Company was chosen as the foundation with adjustments to make the curriculum fit Hudson.
“Since this is the first year of implementation, the team has continued to meet on a regular basis,” Anderson said.
She said the PAC meetings were an open forum for Anderson and Pimentel to hear from families and “give us things to think about.”
She said, “It’s been very helpful in improving the program.”
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The advisory council is composed of teachers and administrators who meet regularly to assess the dual language program and report to Reagan on how to advance the program. The group can look more objectively at the program since they are not involved in the curriculum or a parent, she noted.
Pimentel discussed some of the strengths and recommendations identified by the advisory council. She said that language application is non-negotiable for any dual language program, and 50% of the instruction needs to be in the partner language.
Among the strengths, students learn in both English and Portuguese every day with a switching pattern of instruction. Pimentel said that one way the program has progressed is that they are able to offer a Portuguese literacy class once every six days in the learning cycle.
The next steps for the program, Pimentel said, would be to provide the structure to have more Portuguese instructional time, which would translate into an extra 100 minutes of learning a week.
Another strength was having a bilingual literacy specialist this year and the support to hire international teachers, but the next step would be to have a bilingual Portuguese instructional coach and to continue to hire Portuguese support staff for the program.
School Committee member Erica Ankstitus said the PAC “started off with bang,” but it did not seem to be as well attended now. She called it a great opportunity to participate.
“I wonder how we can drum up some more excitement about it or let parents know the goals,” said Ankstitus.
School Committee member Molly MacKenzie said that it’s “phenomenal” that Hudson Public Schools was operating this program.
She added, “Wendy and Ana, I’m in awe. I think this is a huge way for the public schools to attract new people.”
Fellow committee member Mark Terra-Salomão agreed with her and noted that the program is “building on years of work that you both have been doing for a long time, decades of public advocacy.”
For more information about the dual language program, visit www.hudson.k12.ma.us/parents/dual_language_program.