Texas’ schools aren’t educating middle and high school students who lack English proficiency, according to U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice. He ordered the state to change the current secondary-school program. Currently, schools offer bilingual classes through sixth grade; students who remain English Learners and new immigrants then take classes in English as a Second Language. Typically, they perform much worse than students who are fluent in English.
“The failure of secondary (limited English proficient) students under every metric clearly and convincingly demonstrates student failure, and accordingly, the failure of the (English as a Second Language) secondary program in Texas,” Justice wrote in the opinion, which reversed his 2007 ruling in the case.
Texas is supposed to come up with a better program. Some think the judge wants bilingual (or all-Spanish) classes offered in middle and high school.
New immigrants who arrive as teenagers with no English are going to struggle, no matter how they’re taught. Full immersion in English might overwhelm them; Spanish-language classes would delay their transition to English.
However, many English Learners in secondary school aren’t newcomers. In California — and I’m sure in Texas — many English Learners who’ve attended U.S. schools since kindergarten or first grade never read or write well in English. I wrote about this here and here (scroll down).