SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS: Bilingual Secondary
Effective Practices for Addressing Adolescent Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE)
By Yasmin Hernández-Manno
Addressing the ever-growing population of newly arrived immigrant adolescent English language learners with limited or no formal education is becoming increasingly more challenging to teachers and school districts across the nation. The Newark International Newcomer Student Center was created (2007) as a drop-out prevention program addressing the needs of this sub-group of students. It is a specialized Bilingual Alternative educational program that specifically focuses on the linguistic, schooling, and socialization needs of Students with Interrupted Formal Education. These recent immigrants are entering our school district possessing low or no literacy skills in the native language and are required to simultaneously develop academic language skills and content skills. Prior to the implementation of the Newcomer Center, these students would drop out of school simply because they did not possess the skills to master the grade level content and curriculum of high school.
The program was recognized in 2010 by the NJDOE as a Bilingual/ESL Model Program of Excellence Resource Site. The features that made the program a model are the following:
- It was modeled after nationally research-based best practices for effective implementation and design of Bilingual/ESL Newcomer Centers;
- A researched Composite Model is implemented allowing for an effective program design that includes instructional interventions, ongoing staff development for teachers, parental/family interventions and support services;
- It is a well-designed Bilingual/ESL instructional program providing all the necessary standards-based, researched-based, and differentiated instructional best practices proven to successfully keep the students in school and allow them to further their education after completing the program;
- Collaboration is provided for weekly common planning periods affording the bilingual and ESL teachers to coordinate their lesson design across content areas;
- Yearly student data demonstrating significant academic and grade level achievements in pre/post tests;
- Modified schedules are provided meeting the needs of all students;
- Small class sizes allow for individualized attention and differentiation of instruction;
- Students are allowed to learn at their own pace having an individualized program plan;
- Yearly low dropout rates are less than 2%;
- High attendance rates over 90%;
- Nurturing learning environment.
The Newcomer Center offers a positive first educational learning experience in American schools by providing a sheltered environment. This allows students to be academically successful early on, affording them the opportunity to further their education. The program has been successful in educating the past five cohorts of students and preventing them from otherwise dropping out of school. In 2008, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) chose the Newark International Newcomer Center to be a part of a three year national study of effective Newcomer Centers in the United States. The study was published December 2011. Last year, the Center was recognized on a national level by the United States Department of Education as one out of twenty national programs effectively addressing English language learners in the United States. We encourage you to contact the center for further information or to schedule a visit.
Yasmin Hernández-Manno, Bilingual Secondary SIG, Newark Public Schools Central Office Supervisor of Bilingual & ESL Education, firstname.lastname@example.org