Two U-46 Sites Added to Bilingual Program Expansion Means 37 of 53 Schools Now Offer Students Bilingual Services Bilingual: Ellis Program Features Language Arts Class in Spanish

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Byline: Kerry Lester

Come August, two more Elgin Area School District U-46 schools will become bilingual program sites, and another will expand its services for students learning English.

Ellis Middle School in Elgin and Elgin High School will both add bilingual education programs, said Wilma Valero, the districts director of programs for English language learners. Otter Creek Elementary in Elgin, which previously featured bilingual classes for third- through sixth-graders, will now offer classes for kindergartners and first- and second-graders. One dual-language class will also be added for Ellis seventh-graders coming from Channing Elementarys dual-language program.

Unlike traditional bilingual education, where students are taught in their native language for the majority of the school day, dual-language instruction splits a select group of students school days and subjects between Spanish and English.

The program was originally established seven years ago at Channing as a one-site program for the district.

Channing parents have long urged U-46 to expand the program citing test score improvements, more confident kids and a multicultural atmosphere. High test scores from dual-language students helped raise Channing off the states academic warning list in 2005. It has not returned since.

This spring, surveys were went home to Channing dual-language parents, measuring interest in the program being expanded at Ellis.

Sixteen of the 18 sixth-grade parents surveyed voted in favor of expanding the program, interim Superintendent Mary Jayne Broncato said in April. …