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Washington D.C. School District Takes Aim at Language and Cultural Education

Word Count:
595

Summary:
In 2004, the Washington D.C. enacted the Language Access Act. The Act was created in order to grant greater
access to and participation in public schools and other public services for those residents that have limited
or no English proficiency. The Act is designed to address four crucial areas of language use and access to
public services.



Keywords:
schools, washington DC, school, Washington DC schools



Article Body:
Washington D.C.’s Language Access ActttIn 2004, the Washington D.C. enacted the Language Access Act. The Act
was created in order to grant greater access to and participation in public schools and other public services
for those residents that have limited or no English proficiency. The Act is designed to address four crucial
areas of language use and access to public services. These four areas are: the need for and the offering of
oral language services; providing of written translation of key documents into other languages that have
populations constitutes 3% or 500 individuals, whichever is less, of the population served or encountered,
or
likely to be served or encountered; establishment of language access plans that best services these
populations; and finally creating language access coordination. The District of Columbia is focusing at this
time on these five languages; Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Amharic. As a public service the
Washington D.C. School District has also made steps to provide adjustments in its language and cultural
education programs. Washington D.C. School’s Diverse Population         Washington D.C. Schools are composed of
one hundred sixty-seven schools and special learning centers. The breakdown of Washington D.C. Schools
includes: one hundred one elementary schools, eleven middle schools, nine junior high schools, twenty high
schools, six educational centers and twenty specialty schools. These schools educate nearly sixty-six thousand
students with the majority made up of 39,161 elementary school students. Washington D.C. Schools have a rich
diverse student population with more than one hundred twelve different foreign languages that represent one
hundred thirty-eight different nationalities. Out of these students almost 13% can be said to belong to
a
language minority group and another 8% can be classified as Limited English Proficient (LEP) or Non English
Proficient (LEP/NEP) learners. The ethnic breakdown of the Washington D.C. School District includes nearly
85% African Americans, 10% Hispanics, 4% Whites, around 1% Asian Americans. In an effort to address the needs
of this student population Washington D.C. Schools center their attention on the younger learners. Washington
D.C. Schools operates sixty-nine Head Start programs aimed at pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. It
also runs six Montessori programs. It is now aiming at improving its language programs. Presently, Washington
D.C. Schools operate eight two-way full immersion Spanish/English...Implementing New Two-Way Language
Immersion ProgramsssThe Shepherd Elementary School, one Washington D.C. School, is working to develop new
two-way language immersion programs for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. The school is seeking to enroll
pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students who speak French, Spanish or other languages in an effort to create
new immersion programs. The programs will begin in late August, so Washington D.C. Schools are asking for
immediate responses for those parents interested in the program. Right now the plan is for students to receive
either Spanish-English or French-English content taught by fluent English and target language teachers. The
dual language program is connected to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program that begins
in all grades in late August, 2006. As part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program
students also receive education in culture and cultural diversity which includes: Children develop
an
understanding of self within a community. Begin to identify similarities and differences among people (e.g.,
gender, race, culture, language, abilities); demonstrate an emerging respect for culture and ethnicity. (Will
learn some words of another language. Tastes a snack that a classmate from another culture brings to school.);
and demonstrate emerging awareness and respect for abilities. (Listens to a story about a child with
a
disability. Includes children with disabilities in
play.)

				
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posted:5/17/2012
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Description: Education articles