Texas Border Business
PHARR – As part of its commitment to continue to be a national leader in dual language education for all students, the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD School Board of Trustees unanimously passed a Dual Language Program Policy on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020.
“With this policy, our Dual Language program will continue to have a positive impact in our community,” said PSJA School Board President Jorge Zambrano. “As our students pursue higher forms of education in both their native and English language, they will have more and better job opportunities in the workforce.”
PSJA ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo thanked the School Board for coming together to ensure this program is cemented within the school district and it has the support needed to continue to make a difference.
“At PSJA ISD we are committed to providing life-changing opportunities for our students and preparing them to succeed in today’s global society,” said Dr. Arredondo. “We know that the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program is fundamental in helping us enrich the multicultural experiences are students can have, which will help open many doors for them in the future.”
PSJA’s Dual Language Enrichment Program is an academic experience designed for students to develop stronger cognitive and academic skills through the development of on-level bilingualism and biliteracy.
Through a rigorous curriculum, students who participate in the program are academically instructed in English and Spanish, from Pre-Kinder to 12th grade. As a result, students can master both languages and enhance their education by developing the ability to fluently speak, read, write, and think critically in both English and Spanish, which allows them to compete successfully in a global economy.
PSJA Dual Language graduates receive an additional seal on their high school diploma, the Seal of Biliteracy, certifying them as bilingual and biliterate. Only one other school district in Texas offers a Biliteracy Seal to their students. Employers and education institutions recognize and validate PSJA’s Biliteracy Seal.
While the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program has been in existence since 1995, the new district policy will ensure the program has the necessary support to continue developing students who achieve high academic standards in both languages. As part of the policy, PSJA ISD has committed to continue hiring and retaining quality staff, funding appropriate professional development, and providing program facilities and instructional resources.
“The passing of this Dual Language Policy is historical, and it memorializes PSJA’s success with the program,” said PSJA Chief Academic Officer Dr. Rolando “Rudy” Treviño. “It also challenges us to continue to improve the program and leverage best practices seen throughout our school district.”
According to the program’s Director Olivia Martinez, this policy will help ensure English Learners continue to receive a bilingual/biliterate education that allows them to maintain their identity, culture, roots, and values.
During the last recent years, the program has expanded its offerings to include a third language for students in the program. Mandarin Chinese and Arabic are two languages available to Dual Language students, equipping them with even more experiences that will enrich their academic journey.
Last month, two PSJA ISD elementary schools who were one of the first to adopt the dual language program in the district were recognized as a National Association of ESEA Distinguished School, for exceptional student achievement in 2020. Chavez Elementary and Garcia Elementary, both located in Pharr in the Las Milpas area, were the only two campuses selected by the Texas Education Agency to represent Texas at the national level for exemplifying the highest level of achievement in terms of student performance for the last three years.
Both schools have a strong implementation of the Dual Language Enrichment Program and are model schools for the implementation of biliteracy among all students.