The Dever School goes bilingual; more to follow?

Some of the youngest students at the Dever School on Columbia Point will join two-way bilingual classrooms next year, according to Boston Public School officials, giving both Spanish- and English-speaking kids a chance to learn a second language.

“Dual language programs have proven to be an effective model for students learning to read, write and speak fluently in two languages, and these programs are in great demand among parents,” said Superintendent Carol Johnson. “The Dever School community has demonstrated great initiative to launch this exciting new program, and we are pleased to support them in ensuring its success.”

The program, which will begin next year, will start with two kindergarten classrooms, each filled with half native English speakers and half native Spanish speakers. Two classes will be added each year as the students proceed, eventually replacing the Sheltered English Immersion classes already offered at the school.

Some studies have shown improved test scores for both English and Spanish speakers in similar two-way bilingual programs, and Dr. Johnson has said she is committed to expanding them across the city.

Already, there are three schools with two-way bilingual classes in the city, the Sarah Greenwood K-8 on Glenway Street, the Hernandez K-8 in Roxbury (which accepts students citywide) and the Hurley K-8 in the South End. Expanding to the Dever will give Dorchester’s Zone 4 in the proposed five-zone BPS busing plan more capacity for English Language Learners.

BPS is also hearing a call for more ELL support from the Haitian community, and Johnson said last week that such a program could end up at the Taylor School on Morton Street, possibly as early as the 2010-2011 school year. Chris Horan, a BPS spokesman, later confirmed that the Taylor might be more likely to receive a Transitional Bilingual Education program. TBE’s generally educate incoming ELL students in their native language over a period of two to three years while they take intensive English courses.

The Charles H. Taylor School largely serves a Haitian and West Indian student population.



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