Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teacher certification: does it keep qualified teachers out of the classroom?

Gordon Van Owen
July 20, 2009
UEGE5102
Dr. King

When I applied for Teach for America nearly two years ago, I was certain of two things. First, I was essentially guaranteed a job after I finished my master’s degree following the summer of 2008, and I would be a certified teacher in somewhere – either temporary, permanent, or otherwise. However, what I was not aware of was the endless amount of paperwork, preparation, coursework, and wrangling that millions of teachers must face in order to step foot inside of a classroom. This left me wondering, with the serious shortage of teachers facing school districts across the country (especially in math and science content areas, is it wise to make the certification process so burdensome for those who are willing to start a career as a teacher? Also, does the process, which varies from state to state, completely rule out some excellent potential teachers because they lack one or two minor criterion? Ultimately, the states still control the requirements they ask of their teachers. However, increased pressed from the federal government for more qualified teachers is pushing the limit on who can teach. Will there be a breaking point?
The history of certification practices in the United States dates back to the 19th century. By the latter part of the century, only three states mandated state control of the certification process (Agnus, 2001). This state control grew throughout the early parts of the 20th century mostly as a result of urbanization and the efforts of the Progressives. “Administrative progressives never wavered from the view that a higher quality, more professional teaching corps could only be produced by requiring more and more training inc colleges of education (Agnus, 2001, p. 24). This continued expanse of mandated state certification helped spawn the development of education colleges at state schools to help produce more teachers. By the end of the 20th century, with the proliferation of teachers’ unions and collective bargaining, some states began enacting alternative certification processes, which also helped foster programs such as the New York Teacher Fellows and Teach for America (this may have helped the civil-servant ideology progress as well).
This history of teacher certification shows a wide range in development that was not necessarily equal by region. For instance, the three states that first required teachers to be certified were concentrated in the Northeast. The next entity to enforce teacher certification would be the Arizona territory in the last decade of the 19th century. Based on my observations, these early attempts at mandated certification were done in the name of increasing teacher quality and expertise. However, as the nation urbanized, and the population became more centralized in urban areas, these certification requirements made recruiting qualified teachers difficult. This ultimately led to alternative and emergency certification programs that gave new teachers a fast track to complete certification; this lessened the probationary period and helped career changers or first-time teachers enter the classroom as “qualified” teachers according to the state.
These alternative certification programs quickly garnered a number of high-profile critics. Darling-Hammond, Holtzman Gatlin, and Vazquez-Heilig (2005) found that certified teachers produce significantly larger gains with their students than their uncertified counter parts. Specifically, Harling-Hammond et al focused on the effectiveness of Teach for America corps members and found that uncertified Teach for America recruits are “less effective than certified teachers and perform about as well as other uncertified teachers” (2005, p. 1). However, they concede that uncertified teachers who eventually obtain full certification eventually become as effective as traditionally certified teachers.
Literature on the topic of teacher certification runs the gamut of opinion. Those supporting the certification process argue that teachers should understand how children learn and how to make information accessible to them to be successful (Shulman, 1987). Other supports of certification programs tend to support Darling-Hammond et al’s study that those teachers without traditional certification are not as effective as their peers.
However, Goldhaber and Brewer (2000) determined that the type of teacher certification had no direct effect on student achievement. For instance, they found that mathematics teachers with emergency credentials were as effective as teachers with traditional certification, as long as they had previous training in their content area. “This result should, at the very least, cast doubt on the claims of the educational establishment that standard certification should be required of all teachers. In fact, we believe it is incumbent on those who expound such a position to demonstrate that such training systematically leads to better teaching” (Goldhaber & Brewer, 2000, p. 141). While the authors did find evidence that argues the type of certification a teacher has does not inhibit student achievement, they do support some form of certification.
Considering my professional trajectory (I plan on staying in the educational field long term), I can see the merits to both arguments. In response to Darling-Hammond’s critique of programs like Teach for America, I believe the organization has worked toward having all of its members end their two-year commitments as certified teachers. The New York Teaching Fellows program seems to operate under a similar idea. However, what Darling-Hammond seems unable to recognize is alternative certification programs such as these fill a need that many school districts struggle to meet – having enough teachers to instruct students. Programs like these provide an alternative route for adults to enter the classroom instead of studying education while in college. By allowing access to jobs in education, these certification programs allow a greater flow of academic ideals and information, as well as allow career changers to bring their past experiences into their classroom teaching experience. As Goldhaber and Brewer concluded, teachers with alternative certifications are just as effective as those who are traditionally certified. Thus, I support alternative certification programs but still believe that some for of certification is necessary to ensure teachers are aware of the needs of their students and the materials available to help instruct them.

WORKS CITED
Agnus, D. (2001). Professionalism and the public good: a brief history of teacher certification. Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Washington D.C.

Darling-Hammond, L., Holtzman, D., Gatlin, S., & Vasquez-Heilig, J. (2005). Does teacher preparation matter? Evidence about teacher certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness. Education Policy Analysis Archives.

Goldhaber, D. & Brewer, D. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school teacher certification status and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 22; 129

Shulman, L. S.. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of th e new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22. EJ 351 846

Uncharted waters: Where Charter Schools, Parental Choice and IDEA Intersect
James P. Dawson
Fordham University
UEGE  5102

            A recent article in the New York Daily News quoted a parent of a student enrolled in a Harlem Charter School as stating that the school had tried to force his child out, due to the child’s need for a paraprofessional that the school could not provide (2009). The article also cited complains from public school principals that charter schools were dumping their ED and LD students on public schools late in the year, when the public school did not have the funds to service such children: in response, the administration of Harlem Success Charter School maintains that these incidents are few and far between, and that students are not forced out (2009)
            As the fiction between Charter and public schools regarding ED and LD students increases, it would seem that a simple review of the legal obligations of Charter schools under IDEA would suffice to clarify the matter. However, a review of the literature indicates that there exists a murkiness, as to how much responsibility Charter schools actually take for special education student, regardless of IDEA.
            Lang, Rhim, & Aheren found that while IDEA is unequivocal on charter responsibility to special education students (“"Children with disabilities who attend

public charter schools and their parents retain all rights under this part" [34 CFR §300.2(a)]), confusion still persists at the state and city level regarding these responsibilities (2008.)  In addition, a lack of resources at start-up charters schools coupled with an unfamiliarity regarding their roles in the special education continuum, by both charter and sate education officials, make create conflict that interferes with efficient delivery of special education services and the streamlining of such services into the charter (Lang, Rhim, & Aheren 2008.)

            In addition, charter schools may be able to keep special education enrollment to a minimum yet not reject students: Estes study of Texas charter schools found there was substantial evidence of non-compliance with IDEA to be a concern, including the lack of such fundamentals as wheelchair access and progressing to charter schools “counseling out” special education students (2004.) In addition, in the interviews conducted in the study, charter administrators admitted unfamiliarity with tenets of special education best practice (Estes 2004.) While this study was based on a sample of charter schools in Texas, it is noteworthy in that indicates a gulf between the obligations of the charter schools and their actual delivery of special education services, raising questions as to the validity of charters as a viable replacement for traditional public schooling.

              Research by Atkins, Hohnstein and Roche holds that students with IEPs and behavior disorders are not only served by charter schools, but served well enough to elicit positive perceptions from special education students (2008.) While an admittedly small sample, the students interviewed all stated that they had higher perceptions of their academic and social achievement at the charter school, compared with their previous traditional school—with those students with IEP’s reporting the most improvement (Atkins, Hohnstein & Roche 2008.) But it would seem that this charters school was designed and staffed with special education students in mind, something Estes found all too rare in her research (2004.)

            The debate as to the efficiency and legitimacy of charter schools will  continue; however, as school districts such as New York City’s Department of Education and Texas state education department actively promoting and financing them, it is imperative that these schools provide the same range of services to special education students that they so actively promise to general education. It would be damaging, not just to the charter system, but to American education as a whole, if these schools were allowed to over promise and under perform those essential educational services that these students need. 

           

References

 

Atkins T., Hohnstein S., and Roche V. (2008) Perceptions of their new school: Students

             with and without disabilities changing to an alternative and charter School.
             Journal of School Choice. 2 (1) 47-65.

 

Estes B.M. (2004) Choice for all? Charter schools and students with special Needs.
             Journal of Special Education.
37 (4) 257-267.

 

Department of Education. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of

2004. Accessed July 20, 2009. 
http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cstatute%2C

 

Lange C. M.Rhim L. M., and Ahearn E. M. (2008) Special education in charter schools:
             The view from state education agencies. Journal of Special Education

             Leadership. 21 (1) 12-21.

 

Kolodner M., and Monahan R. (2009) Charter schools pawn off flunking students, says
             public school principal. New York Daily News. Accessed July 20, 2009.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2009/07/19/2009-07-19_charters_pawn_off_flunking_kids_ps_big_sez.html#ixzz0LrWen1q4

 

 

 

 


 

  

 

 Uncharted waters: Where Charter Schools, Parental Choice and IDEA Intersect

James P. Dawson
Fordham University
UEGE  5102

            A recent article in the New York Daily News quoted a parent of a student enrolled in a Harlem Charter School as stating that the school had tried to force his child out, due to the child’s need for a paraprofessional that the school could not provide (2009). The article also cited complains from public school principals that charter schools were dumping their ED and LD students on public schools late in the year, when the public school did not have the funds to service such children: in response, the administration of Harlem Success Charter School maintains that these incidents are few and far between, and that students are not forced out (2009)
            As the fiction between Charter and public schools regarding ED and LD students increases, it would seem that a simple review of the legal obligations of Charter schools under IDEA would suffice to clarify the matter. However, a review of the literature indicates that there exists a murkiness, as to how much responsibility Charter schools actually take for special education student, regardless of IDEA.
            Lang, Rhim, & Aheren found that while IDEA is unequivocal on charter responsibility to special education students (“"Children with disabilities who attend

public charter schools and their parents retain all rights under this part" [34 CFR §300.2(a)]), confusion still persists at the state and city level regarding these responsibilities (2008.)  In addition, a lack of resources at start-up charters schools coupled with an unfamiliarity regarding their roles in the special education continuum, by both charter and sate education officials, make create conflict that interferes with efficient delivery of special education services and the streamlining of such services into the charter (Lang, Rhim, & Aheren 2008.)

            In addition, charter schools may be able to keep special education enrollment to a minimum yet not reject students: Estes study of Texas charter schools found there was substantial evidence of non-compliance with IDEA to be a concern, including the lack of such fundamentals as wheelchair access and progressing to charter schools “counseling out” special education students (2004.) In addition, in the interviews conducted in the study, charter administrators admitted unfamiliarity with tenets of special education best practice (Estes 2004.) While this study was based on a sample of charter schools in Texas, it is noteworthy in that indicates a gulf between the obligations of the charter schools and their actual delivery of special education services, raising questions as to the validity of charters as a viable replacement for traditional public schooling.

              Research by Atkins, Hohnstein and Roche holds that students with IEPs and behavior disorders are not only served by charter schools, but served well enough to elicit positive perceptions from special education students (2008.) While an admittedly small sample, the students interviewed all stated that they had higher perceptions of their academic and social achievement at the charter school, compared with their previous traditional school—with those students with IEP’s reporting the most improvement (Atkins, Hohnstein & Roche 2008.) But it would seem that this charters school was designed and staffed with special education students in mind, something Estes found all too rare in her research (2004.)

            The debate as to the efficiency and legitimacy of charter schools will  continue; however, as school districts such as New York City’s Department of Education and Texas state education department actively promoting and financing them, it is imperative that these schools provide the same range of services to special education students that they so actively promise to general education. It would be damaging, not just to the charter system, but to American education as a whole, if these schools were allowed to overpromise and underperform those essential educational services that these students need. 

           

References

 

Atkins T., Hohnstein S., and Roche V. (2008) Perceptions of their new school: Students

             with and without disabilities changing to an alternative and charter School.
             Journal of School Choice. 2 (1) 47-65.

 

Estes B.M. (2004) Choice for all? Charter schools and students with special Needs.
             Journal of Special Education.
37 (4) 257-267.

 

Department of Education. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of

2004. Accessed July 20, 2009. 
http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cstatute%2C

 

Lange C. M.Rhim L. M., and Ahearn E. M. (2008) Special education in charter schools:
             The view from state education agencies. Journal of Special Education

             Leadership. 21 (1) 12-21.

 

Kolodner M., and Monahan R. (2009) Charter schools pawn off flunking students, says
             public school principal. New York Daily News. Accessed July 20, 2009.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2009/07/19/2009-07-19_charters_pawn_off_flunking_kids_ps_big_sez.html#ixzz0LrWen1q4

 

 

 

 


 

  

 

 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Strategizing to Improve Parent –Teacher relations: A Reflective Six Step Plan

(Considering the class I worked with in the Spring it was hard for me to continually use the word “parent” because some of the children were foster children, others lived with relatives, etc. So, I use parents and families interchangeably)

One of the main issues that teachers face when working in multicultural and linguistically diverse classrooms is effectively communicating with the parents of English Language Learners (ELLs). In some cases, depending on the country of emigration and socioeconomic status, some of these parents are not literate in either English or their first language. Based on my research the best way for teachers to effectively bridge the communication gap between these parents is to collaborate closely with the school and school district to develop programs that will encourage parent participation.

This reflection focuses uncovering alternative approaches for reaching out to parents when the school system or district is not cooperative. In light of my reflections I have set up a six step plan. The following steps are for teachers to look at the types of parent involvement and strategize on ways to get those parents involved in their children’s education. All the steps are interrelated and do not need to be followed in the order in which I list them. The final goal of these steps is to help teachers consider how they can build effective relationships with the parents of the children in their classes, thereby increasing parent participation and collaboration.

Step 1

The first step is, learning about the families. This step is a year long process that can be explored in various ways. First, it is crucial for the teachers to learn about each student. Through students, much can be learned about their families. How do we get to know our ELLs? “Of particular importance are the students’ native languages and cultures, the length and quality of prior formal education in their native language, any previous education that they have received in U.S. schools, the amount of time they have been in the United States and the extent of the exposure to English” (Hill & Flynn, 2006, pp. 112) Many of these facts are readily available through each students’ records.

To acquire more information about the students and their families, teachers can draft their own surveys for the families of their students. I know a few teachers who do this even as a personal precaution; at the very least they need personal information such as emergency phone numbers and addresses an essential part of their files. So, if by some chance general information about the children’s prior schooling is not available through records, teachers can ask questions in their surveys. Another resourceful strategy to getting to know the parents or families through the survey would be to find out “what the parents knew about school systems in the United States” (Hill et al., 2006 p. 114) Depending on how much the teacher wants to learn about the families they serve, they can also attend community functions and events. By just getting to know the community, teachers’ insights about family challenges may become clearer (Freeman & Freeman, 2001).

Step 2

Reaching out to the parents as early as possible, either before or during the start of the school year, transitions easily into the second step which is, encouragement. Getting an early start on welcoming parents into the brand new school year of their children’s education connects the teacher to the parent immediately. Depending on the teacher’s resources, parents can be welcomed through a letter or by invitation to visit the class with their child. Teachers’ goals in this step should be to demonstrate that they care and instill conditioned expectations in the parent-teacher relationship. What I mean by conditioned expectations is that as teachers, we want to somehow get parents conditioned to at least expect correspondences with us. Teachers need to be bold and confident in this step because it sets a first impression. Research shows that one factor affecting parent participation is “teachers’ belief in their ability to teach and their pupils’ ability to learn” (Caballero, nd, p. 2).

Encouragement is also somewhat of a persuasive measure. Teachers want parents to feel encouraged or invited to participate in their child’s education and that can start with a warm welcome. One reason why encouraging parents to participate in their children’s education is important is that “parent involvement reduces dropout rates and improves school performance” (Caballero, nd, p. 2). Some valid points discussed by Freeman and Freeman are that parents do not have to be educated, literate, or proficient in English to engage in certain conversations and activities with their children (2001). Moving forward, if a warm welcome was not enough to engage certain parents then teachers can consider which activities students can take home and actually do with their families, i.e., book readings and translations. Send children home with books they can read or have read in class and let them do a read a loud at home as well as translation. Or facilitate library projects for students and parents to listen to, read, and discuss books on tape translated in English and the primary language. Then students can write about that experience and their discoveries. “Though parents may ask themselves how they can help when they do not speak English, what children need to learn are ideas, concepts and processes, and it does not matter in which language they learn these things” (Cummings, Krashen et al., as cited in Freeman et al.,2001, p. 261).

Step 3

While step 2 might sound like a relatively simple step it is the most difficult to assess. What do you do if all your efforts to reach out to certain parents are fruitless? To answer this question I offer a very plain solution, the third step, which is readiness. If teachers have done their homework as suggested in step 1, and they know the families they are dealing with, then they might realize that the parent is not responding because they do not know how to write back, or their working conditions are hindering them etc. The bottom line is that there are a variety of reasons why teachers may not be able to initiate a relationship with parents. While there might be a slim chance that the parent just do not care, Freeman and Freeman offer the following alternative and prevalent reasons why parents or families ELLs “seem” to not care:

Teachers who criticize parents for not trying to learn English and for not spending more time with their children, however, may not realize how difficult it is for immigrant parents to adjust to life in a new country, to understand the school system, and to comprehend the expectations schools have of parents. (Freeman et al, 2001, p. 247)

Why is readiness important? The answer is simple, readiness is important to salvage the teacher’s mental health. Some teachers think that because they are a force for change that they can take on the burdens of the world. I am like that, so I speak from experience. A colleague of mine plainly said to me “you are going to burn yourself out, and you won’t be able to give the students what they need.” I offer these words to other teachers as pure tokens of wisdom. Readiness simply suggest that teachers prepare themselves for the difficulties they will face while doing their job; but they have to know what they can change, and what they cannot change and just do their best in the circumstances.

Step 4

The Communication Connection is the fourth step. This step stresses that teachers need to reach out to whichever parents they can. Furthermore, they should show parents that communication is an effective tool that will only help further their children’s education. Teachers can communicate with families using various methods and tools. The Communication Connection involves teachers knowing the languages represented in their classes, familiarizing themselves with resources and tools that can facilitate the communication process with parents or families and finally seeking and using opportunities to validate both the languages and cultures of the families represented in their classes. Since the first step in communicating with parents and families would be to connect with them, I suggest teacher leveled “intensive outreach” (Hill et al., 2006 p.114).

A few connection tips teachers might like to consider include, having meetings with the parents or families just to get to know them; follow-up meetings or parent / family nights updating families about their children’s progress or simply giving them tips about how they can help their children with English acquisition; Making visuals that communicate with children, either through their languages or universally, part of the class environment (if children feel their culture is acknowledge and affirmed in class, they will tell their parents about it); Getting to know the community and community workers is a great way to build understanding about the parents and families the teacher is involved with (partnering with community workers can be valuable to teachers they can serve as translators and even guest speakers for related events for class). All of these suggestions are simplified outreach approaches, or as I have said, teacher leveled. District leaders devise more complex ways to uses these approaches but again if teachers can not get the help they need these techniques might be useful (Hill et al., 2006).

Step 5

A colleague of mine once described teaching as a multifaceted career that entailed not just research and learning but also counseling, nurturing, and educating. I would like to add one more characteristic to her list, advertising. The fifth step is Recruiting. In other words, teachers should elicit parents or family help in the classroom or for activities. This is a direct way to demonstrate your interest in having them participate in their children’s education. In the event that parents do not contribute to activities or events teachers can invite trusted community workers and friends who represent the same cultures included in the class. Again, if the children are excited about how their culture is being honored in the class, they will motivate and encourage their parents to also be partakers. Of course teachers need to influence the students in that thinking by suggesting that next time maybe one of their parents or someone they know can help. Children can also assist n creating invitations for their families to participate in various class functions.

Going back to the suggestion that various types of parent- teacher meetings would be beneficial, teachers can also consider this an opportunity to encourage parents to come in and assist in other class activities. If teachers even go as far as to encourage parents to take active roles in their children’s education by helping to choose books for class read alouds, for example, family responses may be overwhelmingly positive. Evidently, this step requires persistence teachers should extend invitations “often and in several ways” (Hill et al., 2006 p.116).

Step 6

The final step is Being an objective problem solver. Researching other ways to engage the parents is a vital aspect of this step. As teachers we may find that much of our efforts to improve our children’s education outside of school seem futile. In my opinion, despite these results we cannot give up, nor should we jump to conclusions about the parents and families responsible for these children after school. Instead, I would like to challenge educators to be objective problem solvers. Although they may observe something, the contributing factors involved in that observation vary. So, this step also encourages teachers to be strategic in their thinking and in how they respond to certain family related dilemmas. One example of why this approach is important is that “Keys to reaching Latino parents are strong personal outreach, warm, non-judgmental communication and the ability to convey respect for the parents’ feelings and concerns (HPDP 1990)” (Caballero, nd, p 12)

Researcher Joyce Epstein has delineated five types of parent involvement including: “meeting basic obligations of children and building positive home conditions; school-home communications about programs and progress; in schools as volunteers and as programs and workshop participants; in learning activities at home and in monitoring and assisting with homework; and governance, advocacy and monitoring schools” (1) Considering these five types of family participations, teachers need to develop realistic expectations from these parents. This measure also relates to “readiness.” Many factors can lead parents and family involvements to develop the way they do. But as teachers it is still our responsibility to give parents what they need to participate in their children’s education, in as many ways as possible. This is important because research has found “parents’ participation in schools to be positively correlated to student achievement” (Caballero, nd, p 1).

Works Cited

Caballero, D. (n.d.) Latino Parent Involvement: The Challenge to Principals. New York, NY

Freeman, D. E., & Freeman, Y. S. (2001). Between Worlds: Access to Second Language Acquisition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Hill, J. D., & Flynn, K. H. (2006). Classroom Instruction that works with English Language Learners. VA: ASCD.

Bilingual Education: Efficacy and Practice

Language and literacy skills form the foundation for all learning in a child’s education. Without a solid basis in literacy, students cannot receive, process, or communicate information with the classroom environment. Many national education reforms have dealt with the unending question of how to raise literacy levels. This is especially relevant to English Language Learners (ELLs) who must balance learning content-area information and second language acquisition, all while adjusting to a new sociocultural environment. Educators argue for and against a variety of strategies that would help ELL students best succeed academically and socioculturally. Perhaps the most controversial method for doing so is bilingual education, during which instruction is conducted in English as well as a student’s native language. Advocates and opponents of bilingual education allege heated arguments, citing a myriad of research studies that support both sides of the debate. These arguments surround the efficacy of bilingual education and whether bilingual education affirms students’ cultural identities.

There are multiple forms of bilingual education, each of which will be discussed in this paper. The first, perhaps original form of bilingual education was transitional bilingual education, which involves content-area instruction in a student’s native language as they are learning English in ESL classes. By the end of the program (designed to last one to three years), students should be fluent in English and ready to join the mainstream population.

Proponents of bilingual education believe that children should transition to English-only instruction as soon as possible. Opponents of bilingual education cite that even though students are receiving instruction in their native language, the favoring of the dominant language (English) over the native language can cause students to lose their native language. This results in negative cognitive effects, one of which is loss of communication with parents and family members (Collier, 1995). The famous Ramirez study (1991) found that students enrolled in late-exit transitional bilingual education end up staying in these programs longer than the original three years. Another study found that while ELL students in transitional bilingual education programs did not hinder students from learning English, but there was no significant difference between academic achievement in transitional bilingual education programs and structured English immersion classes (Hofsetter, 1994).

Other forms of bilingual education can be encompassed within the category of dual language programs. Some programs have students study certain subjects (such as math and science) in their native language, while studying the rest of the subjects (history and humanities) in English. Other programs enroll equal numbers of native and non-native English speakers so that all students are requiring a second language at the same time. Still other programs, called heritage education, enroll students who are more fluent in English than their heritage language. Dual language programs strive for students to become socially and academically literate in both languages; thus they are thought of as the ‘true bilingual education’.

Proponents of dual language programs argue that they create a classroom environment where language instruction is additive, and that both languages are valued equally. They cite the political, economic, and cultural deficit that the United States faces if it remains a monolingual nation (Melendez 1989). Opponents of dual language programs fear that these programs hinder English language acquisition. According to a comprehensive study by Collier and Thomas (2004), dual language bilingual education programs have successfully helped ELL students learn English and content area information. This study concludes that the most successful programs are six or more years in length, combine native and non-native English speakers, have rigorous language instruction in both languages, use the non-English language at least 50 percent of the time, and use interactive teaching practices.

These studies seem to show that bilingual education can result in high academic achievement for both ELL students and native-English speakers, along with reaffirmation of culture and heritage. However, there can be tremendous discrepancies between the implementation of bilingual education programs across the nation. While research in this area is difficult because of the multitude of influences that affect the implementation of these programs; however it seems that there are common themes among programs that are most successful. In order to increase the success of all bilingual education programs and to provide a quality education for all students regardless of their first language, then policy makers, administrators, and teachers need to work together to find a solution that supports English and native language acquisition, reaffirms cultural identity, and models the diverse, multicultural, multilingual global world that students will soon inherit.












References

Collier, V. P. (1997). Promoting Academic Success for E. S. L. Students: Understanding Second Language Acquisition for School. Woodside, NY: Bastos Book Company.

Collier, V., & Wayne, T. (2004). The Astounding Effectiveness of Dual Language Education for All . NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 2(1), 1-20.

Hofstetter, C. (1994). Effects of a Transitional Bilingual Education Program: Findings, Issues, and Next Steps. Bilingual Research Journal, 28(3), 1-16.

Melendez, S. (1989). A Nation of Monolinguals, A Multilingual World. . National Education Association Journal. , 7(6), 70-74.

Teaching Code-Switching in the Classroom

"Speak proper English!" as a child I had this said to me on more than one occasion. 9 out of 10 times it was said by my grammar-enthusiast father who loved to read write and engage in intellectual conversations using this "proper" English. "'Nutthin' is not a real world" he would say as he instructed me on the "correct" way to pronounce "nothing" all in the same breath. My mother was the complete opposite of my father. She is a southern girl with a thick southern accent and speaks in the North American slave dialect popularly known as "Ebonics." After my parents divorced, I mastered the art of code-switching. When I was around my mother I spoke in Ebonics just like the rest of my siblings and family members. When I was around my father I spoke in formal English. I did not know it at the time but I was being taught a skill that would be invaluable to me throughout my adult years--code-switching. There is a current movement for teachers to introduce students to code-switching at an early age. The results are beneficial to a child's life but with teaching code-switching comes negative implications.
It is contradictory of us to teach our students that everyone is equal but in the same breath correct them on their "improper" use of English. The very idea of code-switching implies that one discourse is superior to the other. If all of our languages were accepted on the same level the there would not be the need to code-switch. One could go into a job interview and use double negatives and contractions galore. The truth is, there is a language hierarchy just as there is a social hierarchy. Students need to know that informal English is shunned upon by the majority of people. As John Baugh (2000) writes, "if teachers are going to legitimize [non standard English] then all authority figures who interact with children-such as law enforcement officers-will have to learn it as well." We all know that everyone is unwilling to use non-standard English but they are willing to judge those who are unwilling to use Standard English.
The positive aspects of code-switching cannot be denied. In America there is a clear majority of people who have power to make, change, and influence policy. For our students to become successful adults they have to learn how to emulate the language of those in power. They must know that if they go on a job interview they will be frowned upon if they speak informally. They must understand that language is a form of social currency and that people judge you on the type of language you use and how you use it. Even though some people may try to deny it, "all Americans are keenly aware of linguistic prejudice among us, including strong differences of linguistic opinion among people from similar racial backgrounds" (Baugh 2000). This is why teaching our students how to code-switch is very important. Teaching the value of code-switching will enable students to adapt to several discourses in the future. These students will be able to avoid negative labels and stereotypes based on their use of Standard English within appropriate discourses.
Our language is influenced by whatever discourse we are in at the moment. In the opening paragraph you may have noticed that I used quotation marks for the word "proper." This is because there is no such thing as "proper" English or "improper" English. If I speak formally around my mother's side of my family I may be frowned upon because in that discourse it is considered "improper" to speak formal English. It is far more politically correct to use the words "formal" and "informal" or "standard" or "nonstandard." Speaking Standard English around my black peers can isolate me from the group. My peers may look down upon me as being pretentious and I may face social ridicule. Even though we must reinforce to students their language is not "improper" we must also let them know that in hierarchical world, those with power may look upon their language as being "improper" because of its informality. Minority students tend to feel isolated in their inclination to speak in informal English. As educators, we must inform them that informal English is not only limited to minorities. Even White people experience a linguistic sub cultural divide. John Baugh explains (2000), "Whites who grew up in the northeast tend to speak differently than do Whites who grew up on the Southeast and often maintain their linguistic loyalties to their group or region while castigating others from elsewhere."
Teaching code-switching to our students can be one of the most culturally relevant things that we teach them. It is not without it's challenges. If students are not code-switching on a regular basis then they may lose the ability to do it. Many of our students do not see the relevance in it as they are too young to interact in settings where they must behave professionally. They have not yet formed a secondary discourse. The reason I learned how to code-switch so effectively was because I was regularly practicing it without knowing it would be relevant to my future. I simply knew that my father would not tolerate me speaking "improperly" around him. I find it would be very difficult to actually teach students this concept in the setting of a classroom. For an elementary or middle school teacher it is very difficult to teach students the relevance of code-switching.
According to Piaget's formal operations stage, beginning at age 12 students are now able to transcend concrete situations and think about the future. Since the very essence of teaching children how to code switch is to help them become successful adults, how are these young children supposed to understand this if they have not reached the formal operations stage yet? As a 7th- grade teacher, even though all of my students are at least 12-years-old, it is apparent that the majority of them have not yet reached the formal operations stage. Indeed it seems far too advanced to teach younger students how to code-switch but they can learn the concept if they have sufficient preparation. In order to effectively teach students how to code-switch teachers must use the contrastive analysis approach versus the correctionist approach.
We live in a society where parents and teachers are taking on a correctionist approach when it comes to language. Teachers are constantly devaluing their students' home language by deeming it "improper" in comparison to Standard English. The majority of people in formal settings have adverse reactions to children speaking in non-standard English. Just like my father's constant need to correct my linguistic informalities, "many people may have similar reactions upon hearing nonstandard English, be it vernacular African American English or some other nonstandard dialect belonging to some other linguistically disenfranchised group" (Baugh 2000). The correctionist approach excludes and marginalizes the language of most inner-city students who are already being socially marginalized. Because of this, teachers are now adopting the contrastive analysis approach.
An increasing number of teachers are going about teaching code-switching by way of the contrastive analysis approach. The aim of this approach is to teach students that there language is not inferior to Standard English but it is just different. This approach compares the nuances of formal English to informal English in a way that students can clearly identify the structural and grammatical differences in both languages. An aim of this approach is to teach students that their language is not inferior to Standard English but different. Comparing language to clothing creates a clear analogy that the students can remember. Just like clothing, language can and should be changed to meet the occasion. We would not wear sweat pants and a tank top to a wedding. We would wear formal clothing. We would not wear flip-flops and ripped shorts to a job interview. For formal occasions we dress formally. For informal occasions we dress informally. Just because we do not wear sweatpants to a job interview does not mean sweatpants are "bad." According to Wheeler and Swords (2006) the use of "formal and informal work really well with young children" because "it is important for young children to have something concrete to relate new terms to." The aforementioned analogy of language to clothing, "fits [students'] experience of comfortable language versus best-behavior language (Wheeler and Swords 2006).
The main objective when trying to teach students to speak Standard English is to avoid correcting them when they speak in informal English during class discussions. The correctionist approach "derails the meaning of the conversation and aggravates and alienates the students. Further, correction does not teach the Standard English patterns" (Wheeler & Swords 2006). Research shows that the contrastive analysis approach is far more successful than traditional approaches to teaching Standard English (Wheeler & Swords 2006). It is about time we start effectively teaching our kids how to use Standard English.

Work Cited
Baugh, J (2000). Beyond Ebonics : Linguistic Pride and Racial Prejudice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Wheeler, R, & Swords, R (2006). Code-Switching: Teaching Standard English in Urban Classrooms.Urbana: Illonois.

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