OLYMPIA—August 25, 2022—In dual language education programs, students learn classroom content partly in English and partly in a partner language, providing the opportunity to build biliteracy and bilingualism while learning content. In a media briefing yesterday, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced his plan to expand access to these programs to all Washington students.
Across Washington, 35,000 students spanning 42 school districts and state-tribal education compact schools learn in dual language programs. Under Reykdal’s plan, these numbers will increase steadily over the coming years so that all Washington students will have access to dual language education in grades K–8 by 2040.
“The evidence is clear,” said Reykdal. “When young people become bilingual during the early grades, they have more cognitive flexibility and they perform better in school. As our global economy changes and our world becomes increasingly international, dual language education must become a core opportunity for our students.”
The Washington State Legislature has invested in steadily building student access to dual language education since 2015. Under Reykdal’s proposal, the Legislature would invest $18.9 million in 2023–25 to continue expanding dual language programs to more school districts while simultaneously building the educator workforce, setting Washington on a path to meet statewide implementation by 2040.
“As the educational leaders in our state and community, we must provide all students, especially our multilingual learners, with the most effective learning environment and research-supported program at our disposal,” said Dr. Rob Darling, Deputy Superintendent of the Yakima School District and Executive Council Member of the Multilingual Education Advisory Committee. “Dual language programs have continuously been proven to be the most effective learning model for multilingual students, to accelerate their academic achievement. And for every student involved, it’s the most effective way to break down social barriers and increase their ethnic and racial awareness.”
Dual language education is backed by decades of research as the only program model that prevents and closes opportunity gaps for multilingual/English learners and other student groups that have been historically underserved.
“As an immigrant rights organization, we believe that multilingual education is a cornerstone to building a thriving state for immigrants and refugees,” said Roxana Norouzi, Executive Director of OneAmerica. “Dual language is a long-term investment in students to become bilingual and biliterate; it centers multiculturalism in the classroom and has been proven to improve educational outcomes for immigrant and non-immigrant students alike. Washington state has an opportunity to be a leader on this front by passing this year’s dual language budget request to ensure all school districts can offer quality dual language instruction by 2040.”
To grow the workforce needed to support additional dual language programs, Reykdal’s plan includes doubling the number of residency preparation programs for bilingual educators, as well as providing annual stipends to teachers and instructional paraeducators working in dual language classrooms.
In Washington’s dual language programs, schools choose the partner language that will be taught alongside English. Currently, 102 programs offer Spanish; 3 offer Chinese-Mandarin; 2 offer Vietnamese; and 5 programs offer the following tribal languages: Kalispel Salish, Lushootseed, Makah, Quileute, and Quilshootseed.
“As a mother of daughters in the dual language program, it is my hope that they value their raices (roots) and embrace their cultura (culture),” said Daisy Mendoza, a dual language educator for the Selah School District. “It has been rewarding to see my daughters come home with schoolwork and projects embracing language and culture, strengthening their Spanish literacy and oracy academically.”
Research shows students engaged in dual language education achieve high levels of proficiency in a new language; perform as well or better than their peers in English-only classrooms on standardized tests in English across content areas; and demonstrate increased literacy development, cognitive flexibility, problem-solving skills, cross-cultural awareness, attention control, memory, and information integration.
“The dual language program has transformed my life in many ways,” said Sarai Urias, a student at Highline High School and President of the school’s Latinx Club. “Since being in the dual language program, I have been able to communicate with other classmates a lot better. Our school is so diverse and because of it there’s many kids who don’t know the English language. Being able to speak, read, and write in both English and Spanish has definitely given me the chance to help the people around me.”
The plan to expand student access to dual language programs is the third in a series of transformational budget and policy proposals Superintendent Reykdal will unveil through November called Washington State Innovates: K–12 Education for the 21st Century and Beyond.
Content Source: OSPI Press Release