Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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D65 discusses bilingual curriculum at TWI night, middle school program remains under question

Megija Medne/The Daily Northwestern
Evanston/Skokie District 65 parents attended the Two-Way Immersion program information session at Dawes Elementary School.

Around 20 Evanston/Skokie District 65 parents attended a Two-Way Immersion program information session on Thursday at Dawes Elementary School. The event was led by D65’s Multilingual Program Director Amy Correa and Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Stacy Beardsley. 

The TWI program is a bilingual education program to help elementary school students develop language proficiency in both English and Spanish. The program is offered in five D65 elementary schools — Dawes, Dewey, Oakton, Washington and Willard — and at the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies, a K-8 magnet school.

“When we think about teaching and learning, what we’re really shooting for is this idea: all students are building agency to meet or exceed grade level expectations by engaging in differentiated standards-aligned learning within equitable environments that attend to students’ social emotional learning needs,” Dr. Beardsley said on goals of the TWI curriculum.

D65 parents have recently expressed concerns over the fate of the TWI program. Bessie Rhodes is set to close in the next few years, and the district had initially planned to continue the TWI program for grades 6-8 in the planned 5th Ward school. However, at an Oct. 23 board of education meeting, officials decided to limit the planned school to students in grades K-5 in order to meet budgetary constraints.

The change left D65 without a concrete plan on how to continue TWI for middle school students. Thursday’s event did not discuss the future of TWI for middle schoolers, but Correa said this will be a discussion topic at a meeting for Bessie Rhodes parents on December 6.

Correa told The Daily the district plans to start a Dual Language Program for middle school students in the 2024-25 school year. The district will expand the TWI program by one grade each year, starting with sixth graders in the next academic year, she said. 

”The needs of Bessie Rhodes parents are immediate because we’re starting the dual language program next year,” Correa said. 

The TWI program is different from dual language programs because it aims to have a model of comparable numbers of native-English and native-Spanish speakers in one classroom, Correa said. 

Under the TWI program, kindergarten and first-grade students have 80% of their instruction in Spanish and 20% in English. In second grade, the ratio of Spanish to English changes to 70/30 percent. The changes increase until a 50/50 ratio is reached by middle school. 

“As the grades are added, the amount of Spanish is decreased and the amount of English is increased so by the time they get to fourth or fifth grade, they’re at 50/50,” Correa said. “The 50/50 model is, what the research shows, the most effective for our English learners as well as our Spanish learners when they get to high school.”

Alexis Lauricella, who has two children in the TWI program at Washington Elementary School, said she came to the meeting to learn more about the curriculum and its goals. This is the first time the district has discussed the curriculum in a meeting, she said.

Lauricella said she would like to see more clarity on future plans and data representing achievement among TWI students. 

Like some other parents, she said she hopes to see more discussion on the opportunities to continue the bilingual program in middle school.

“There is no middle school program yet so I don’t know but I would love to hear more about what the plans are for that and how that might be supported. I think it’s really important that two language programs exist in middle school,” Lauricella said. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @_megija

Related Stories: 

—​​ Bessie Rhodes parents demand TWI program be separated from 5th Ward school plans

—​​ New District 65 bilingual/ESL director hopes to expand support

—​​ D65 two-way immersion program centers Spanish language development, promotes cultural identity

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