Low Standards for Bilingual Teachers

It's no easy task for young students to master reading and writing.

But what if their teacher hasn't mastered them as well?

That could be the case when it comes to bilingual programs in Texas.

The problem may lie in what the state requires to become a bilingual teacher.

They're only tested on their speaking ability, leaving out reading and writing.

To some, it may sound like the state's standards are too low.

But we found out today the Amarillo Independent School District does everything it can to hire the most qualified teachers.

Carman Mendoza is teaching numbers to her pre-kindergarten class.

"It's helping them learn with their first language and that will transfer to their English and it makes it easier," she says.

A recent college graduate, she had to pass the state's required oral exam in order to teach these Spanish speaking youngsters.

"They would ask you questions they would have a recorder you would have a certain amount of time to answer the question and they were looking to see if you had that oral proficiency," she says.

Proficient orally.

But there's no state requirement when it comes to reading and writing.

Sylvia Hughes, the bilingual coordinator with AISD says they still find ways to provide that to teachers.

"Once they start teaching in the school district we provide further training in how to teach reading and writing," she says.

Especially now that these students have to face the Texas assessment of knowledge and skills test.

"We want teachers to be prepared as possible when coming into the classroom," she says.

For Mendoza, she says she wouldn't mind if the bar was raised.

"It would be great for them to put a little more of the writing and reading to help us prepare better," she says.

But she also says she's prepared and her students can count on it.

Bilingual programs in Amarillo are offered to students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

AISD has 1,500 Spanish speaking students enrolled and 80 bilingual teachers.