Lawsuit Filed for Bilingual Education

A case unfolding in Austin could change the way bilingual programs are run in local classrooms.

That prospect is drawing mixed responses from district educators in Hereford, where one in eight students learn English as a second language.

NewsChannel 10's Julia Bagg has the story from Hereford. 

One in every three students in this English class are doing more than trying to make the grade. 
They're trying to adapt to a foreign language. But some worry that's not happening for these students,  or the more than five hundred other Hereford students just like them.

Citing poor performance on standardized tests statewide, civil rights lawyers in Austin are urging a U.S. District Judge to compel Texas into more monitoring of its bilingual programs.

Bilingual Program Director Yolanda Gaviña insists English learners are under close watch already. "We're continuously monitoring their progress and we do that through assessment, we do that through informal teacher observations, we do it through benchmarks."

But the latest benchmarks on the state standardized TAKS test are grim for Hereford. Just 17% of Hereford students learning English as a second language met test standards in 2006. They scored an average of 94 points lower in math, and 167 points lower in reading than their classmates.

Gaviña tells us low standardized test scores do not translate to a lack of student progress in learning English. "You get to see the TAKS score, we get to see the students the day the student walks in through our school system and we get to see how they come to us and we get to see them flourish and we get to see them make those academic gains.... And they are making progress, they are learning, they're just not ready to take that type of assessment."

Roni Vallejo is one Hereford teacher would welcome stricter scrutiny in her classroom.  "I think a little more training and after we had the training the teachers having to show what they specifically did in their class. "

A decision from the courts is not expected for several months.