More than a dozen Indiana schools are working to implement dual language programs. The state is helping them with funding, but some schools say what they need from the state now is more information on how to structure the programs.
Dual language immersion means students learn with two languages instead of one. These programs are popping up more frequently, in large part because lawmakers approved grant funding in 2015 to help schools get them started.
But Center for Evaluation and Education Policy researcher, Colleen Chesnut, says educators working in those programs, are worried about a lack of accountability guidelines from the state.
“They were concerned about, ‘is this going to affect my school’s overall test scores because we have this program within our school?’” Chesnut says.
Since the programs are so new, it’s hard to know what the impact will be on standardized tests, given in English. Those tests also don't start until third grade, and most of these programs start at the kindergarten or first grade.
But overall, Chesnut says many see more dual language instruction as a great addition to their schools.
“Teachers were excited about the programs, the administrators were excited about the programs - they wanted to see these programs be successful and they were willing to put in the time and work," Chesnut says.
Chesnut also says educators want there to be more ways for schools with dual language programs to connect and share ideas. There are 19 active public school dual language programs in the state.