The grants will fund language immersion programs at Rockbridge, Evansdale and Ashford Park elementary schools, according to a county news release.
Soon students at the three schools will have the opportunity to take part in dual-immersion programs, in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages. The majority of dual-language programs in the United States teach in English and Spanish, although increasing numbers of programs use a partner language other than Spanish, such as Arabic, Chinese, French, Hawaiian, Japanese, or Korean. Dual-language programs use the partner language for at least half of the instructional day in the elementary years.
Through the grants, the DeKalb school district will have the first German and French immersion programs in the state. Rockbridge Elementary and Evansdale Elementary were awarded the grant for French, and Ashford Park Elementary was awarded a grant for German. The Dekalb district received the most grants of any district in the state.
A 2003 study by the College Board found that students who study a second language for four or more years score higher -- by as much as 100 points per section -- than their peers on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to bolster learning in DeKalb, and we are incredibly grateful to have been selected,” said Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond. “In addition to the advanced cognitive abilities they’ll develop, these dual-immersion programs will help our children graduate with the kinds of skills that get them noticed by potential employers.”
Students at the three schools will begin their language study in kindergarten using a 50/50 immersion model. Training for teachers and staff will take place for a week in July in Augusta.
The grants include $15,000 per school for professional development and to offset costs of textbooks and materials, and $590,000 of in-kind services for the district.