114. In Van Buren as in Dardanelle, Arkansas, our Hispanic population is growing quickly. I have a boy who came to us from the mountains of Mexico during the middle of last year. Even those who can speak Spanish have trouble understanding him because he is from an Indian tribe of some sort. We know that he has not been in school since 2nd grade. When he came to enroll, he was placed in 5th grade based on his age.  We retained him in 5th grade this year, but I am very concerned that there may be more than a language barrier problem. He is a very small guy who is comparable in size to a 2nd or 3rd grader. He works with our ESL aide for 30 minutes every day. He also works with our Migrant aide for 30 min/daily.  He has been working on an English program in the Computer Lab, too.  Still, after 10 months, he speaks just a few English words. He can add, but that is it for his Math skills. According to our Special Education supervisor, we are not to test/refer any Hispanic children until they have been in our District for 3 years. I worry that in 2 more years, he will be so far behind that he will not get much of any education at all. What would you suggest? Please help me! Is there any regulation/law that says I cannot refer him for 3 years????

In Alamosa, Colorado, there is a very large group of children from Guatemala who do not speak Spanish. They speak their native Mayan language which, of course, contains many Spanish words. I provided services for Alamosa Public Schools to help teachers with this issue. And my hope is that your student's lack of English skills and English fluency was NOT the only basis for his retention.

My hope is, too, that there is a very strong correlation and connection among the student's teacher (you), the ESL aide and the Migrant aide. That is, that all three instructors --the grade teacher (you), and the 2 aides-- coordinate and correlate their lessons so that when he returns to the classroom, his work outside the classroom with the two aides greatly contributes to his success within the classroom with you.

His work in the Computer Lab helps him develop technology skills to enhance his reading and writing.

I am going to refer this question, however, to Dr. Andre L. Guerrero, Director of the Program for Language Minority Students at the Arkansas Department of Education, so he can give you the specific details for the state of Arkansas.

We do not have in California, to my knowledge, such a rigid standard before we can offer assistance to our Hispanic students. Definitely this student must be given very "concrete" opportunities to develop his math skills. That is, all his math lessons must be based and must include MANIPULATIVES, instead of just abstract numbers.

Content area learning must include as many visuals as possible since this student's past experiences seem to be very limited, namely, experiences relating to his background in the mountains of Mexico. Testing in math and the content areas, then, must be modified to include, possibly, manipulatives, visuals, and YES/NO questions that indicate he understands the concepts and the English language that expresses the concepts, but is unable to verbalize a complete response. His writing skills in particular, may be tested using the computer since, possibly, writing in print or cursive may be difficult for him.

Please, check my Web Sites for many other ideas on how to help these students who bring very limited background experiences and very limited language to the class.

I am delighted to help, and delighted to answer any additional questions you may have. I admire your interest and concern for this student --and ALL of your students!! Teachers like you who insure ALL students make the necessary progress and receive the necessary services are indeed DEDICATED, COMPETENT, and VERY RESPONSIBLE!!! I congratulate you for your initiative in contacting me with your excellent question.


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