By Noelle Charbonnier
Beaverton High School prides itself on its diverse student body, and how its students come together as a community. There are multiple classes and programs within the school that help strengthen the community bond, and one of those is the newly implemented Dual Language Program.
For years BHS has been offering Spanish classes for native Spanish speakers with the goal of improving their literacy in the language. From Spanish Lit and Comp I, II, and III, to an AP Spanish class for those students whose literacy levels are already high enough to take the harder class. Just a few years ago, BHS added a few more classes into the Dual Language, also known as TWI (two-way immersion) program. Currently, BHS is proud to offer Physics, Chemistry, STEM Chem, AGS 1, and AGS 2 in the Dual Language Program. They hope to add a social studies class in the years to come.
Dual Language is a program that has 3 main goals. The first is to provide the program and classes to students who have been in Dual Language programs for years. The second is to provide for students who have never taken a dual language course or a formal Spanish course but are heritage speakers. The third is for English Language Learners (ESL). These are students who come from other countries and have a certain amount of formal education from their countries. When they come here they may have some English experience, but if they have little or none, the Dual Language Program is a great way to get them plugged into school because they immediately understand the content they are learning. The idea of Dual Language is that students partaking in the program will take at least half of their classes entirely in Spanish. If students complete this, they are eligible to acquire a Seal of Biliteracy at graduation on their diploma.
Eligibility requirements to enroll as part of the TWI program are fairly straightforward. A student is required to have more than just a general knowledge of the Spanish language. The content classes of the program (math, science and AP Spanish) are all regular classes but are taught entirely in Spanish. If a student is a native speaker and grew up speaking in their household, or attended a Two-Way Immersion school in their elementary or middle school years, they might be better off looking at one of the Spanish Lit and Comp classes to help improve their literacy in Spanish. In order to determine where a student should be placed within the school’s program, BHS has created an online test that students coming from middle schools with Two-Way Immersion programs can take. This has helped BHS predict where the students will benefit most during their transition from middle to high school.
I had the chance to talk to Vice Principal Andrew Robinson, the director of the Dual Language Program at BHS, about how the program has helped students since it has been in place. When asking him about the improvement rates in grade levels of students in the Dual Language program, he was glad to share the statistics. “…The times that I have looked at grades of the students in those courses, they tend to have an overall rate of… higher grades than the mainstream versions of those courses. One semester I looked at our passing rate, which was 100% in the freshman physics class in dual language, where in the mainstream one it was not 100%.”
BHS is proud to be one of the few schools within the district that actually offers the Dual Language program. With outstanding results already, BHS students and staff can be expecting great things in the years to come out of the Dual Language program and its accomplishments.