Education for Hispanic Students in the Elementary

Education for Hispanic Students in the Elementary

schools of alabama & the U.S.


Case studies are conducted by many professionals throughout the world and specifically by academic professionals and educators for the purpose of gathering knowledge and data concerning specific topics of interest for the purpose of enlightening their practice and adding to their knowledge in development of curriculum as well for assessing the needs of students and ascertaining what practices are most effective. The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at North-Carolina State University assigns the definition of a case study to be:.”..a written description of a problem or situation. The purpose of a case study is to place participants in the role of decision-makers asking them to distinguish pertinent from peripheral facts, to identify central alternatives among several issues competing for attention, and to formulate strategies and policy recommendations. The method provides an opportunity to sharpen problem-solving skills and to improve the ability to think and reason rigorously.” (McDade, 2002)


Case studies have recognizable characteristics and purposes which are inclusive of that which has been identified by Colorado State University in the publication entitled: “Case Study: Introduction and Definition” which states that a case study:.”..refers to the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including the accounts of subjects themselves. A form of qualitative descriptive research, the case study looks intensely at an individual or small participant pool, drawing conclusions only about that participant or group and only in that specific context. Researchers do not focus on the discovery of a universal, l “generalizability’)”generalizable truth, nor do they typically look for cause-effect relationships; instead, emphasis is placed on exploration and description.” (Colorado State University, 2006) the researcher is able to study any subject through having assessed and conducted analysis upon information from schools which are very: “geographically diverse…without ever having to leave the classroom.” (Colorado State University, 2002)


More than 7,260 ESL students were enrolled in Alabama schools in 1999-2000, according to the Alabama Department of Education’s Limited English Proficiency Statistical Report. Nearly 350 were in Jefferson County” (UAB Media Relations, 2001) home to the city of Birmingham, Alabama. The Hispanic population growth in Alabama between the years of 1993 and 2003 is stated to be at the rate of 18%. (Alabama: Featured Facts, 2005) According to the work entitled: “Hispanic, White Communities Forge Ties in Alabama” a Hispanic immigrant named Juana Hernandez “arrived in Collinsville, which is predominately an African-American population at the age of 13 unable to speak any English: “…however by the end of her first year in the Collinsville schools she “won an award for the highest grade in her class. By graduation she had earned a college scholarship.” (Hispanic, White Communities Forge Ties in Alabama, 2003) Hernandez after having won the scholarship was denied use of it “because she is not a U.S. citizen.” (Ibid) the report goes on to state the “white and Hispanic communities rallied behind her.” (Ibid) Patricia Edwards, a teacher-educator is devoted to specializing in assisting Hispanic students who incidentally “make up half of the enrollment at the elementary school.” “I strongly believe Collinsville will become one of the most integrated communities in Alabama, and it will probably be a laboratory for other communities,” says Hernan Prado, an Ecuadorian-born architect who is an activist for Alabama’s burgeoning Hispanic community. “What we learn in Collinsville will help us prepare for a better future for the United States.” (Ibid) Thus, since the early 1950’s parts of the state of Alabama are experientially diverse within the community and education system. This however, is not true of many of the higher-scaled areas of the state. Alabama has been focused on the needs of the Hispanic population as related to educational needs. In November 2001 the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Education received two grants from the U.S. Department of Education in the approximate sum of $389,000 for funding: “…two University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education initiatives to train public school teachers and personnel to work with non-English speaking children.” (UAB Media Relations, 2001) One grant funded the “New Teachers for New Students: An English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) Certification Program for Alabama Teachers.” (UAB Media Relations, 2001) Also funded was a “distance learning program to deliver ESL courses to teachers around Alabama.” (Ibid) the program was stated to be “based on a highly successful ESL distance learning program at KSU” (Ibid). In addition, a “Summer ESL Institute for Teachers at UAB” (Ibid) will be created so teachers can take two intensive ESL courses each year. The second grant, totaling about $186,000, will fund Project ACCESS, a program to train 75 non-ESL teachers and 45 public school staffers who work with ESL children.” (Ibid) Additionally stated is that the funds will be utilized to implement Project ACCESS designed for training regular classroom teachers to instruct ESL children and the teachers will earn credit toward their ESL certification. Training will be provisioned through this project to: “non-classroom personnel, including administrators, counselors, office staff and bus drivers in selected public schools on how to deal with the cultural” (Ibid) factors. Finally the report states that both of the grants were designed for the purpose of helping the schools: “…meet the Alabama Department of Education’s guidelines requiring public schools to provide equal access to education for the growing number of non-English speaking students. The Program design at the University of Alabama includes use of NCATE, TESOL, SACS and state standards. Theoretical frameworks are stated to include: “cognitive theory, developmental theory, social justice, critical theory, and practical application of theory.” (English Language Development and Multicultural Education (2006) the program makes a requirement of “coursework addressing issues of diversity and study of a language other than English for elementary candidates.” English Language Development and Multicultural Education, 2006) Stated as being required fieldwork for all graduating teachers in the Alabama college system are areas as shown on the following chart labeled Figure 1.

Figure 1: Required Fieldwork for Graduating Teachers at the University of Alabama

Source: English Language Development and Multicultural Education (2006)

Required courses in the curriculum of aspiring teachers are the following courses (1) Linguistic Diversity in the U.S.; (2) Study of Dialects; (3) Multiculturalism/Cultural; (4) Pluralism in the U.S.; (5) Cross-Cultural Studies; (6) Methods for Literacy and Language Development in English (7) Assessment of Subject Matter Content; (8) First Language Acquisition; (9) Second Language Acquisition; (10) Second Language Development; (11) Issues in Bilingualism; and (12) Educational Equity.” (University of Alabama, 2006) the ‘Pedagogical Emphases” on a scale of 1-5 in Alabama education of it’s teachers is shown in the following chart labeled Figure 2.

Figure 2: Pedagogical Emphases on a Scale of 105 in Alabama Education

Curriculum Programs

Source: English Language Development and Multicultural Education (2006)

While all of this sounds encouraging the statistics are a little alarming in fact stated is that: “Historically, when student test data is “broken down,” or disaggregated, by gender, ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status, large gaps in student achievement emerge between black and white students, poor and non-poor students, and general education and special education students. Alabama’s student achievement data reflects this trend.” (Education Foundation; Alabama Education Policy Primer – Chapter 2: Achievement, 2005) the following table labeled Figure 3 shows the statistical results of student’s achievement in elementary grade-four math and reading in the state.

Source: (Education Foundation; Alabama Education Policy Primer – Chapter 2: Achievement, 2005)

The Pew Hispanic Center ‘fact-sheet’ entitled: “Hispanic School Achievement: Catching Up Requires Running Faster Than White Youth” states that: “Hispanic students are notably behind their white counterparts in the core academic skills. Although the precise size of the gap depends on the subject area, age or grade, and the assessment, by all measures, a significant gap in mathematics, reading skills and science exists between Hispanic and white students.” (Pew Hispanic Center, 2004) There is an existing ‘early childhood achievement gap’ according to the Childhood Longitudinal Study of the U.S. Department of Education with stated “differences in school-related skills” already apparent. In spring 2000, the average math test score was 45.5 for whites, in comparison to 40.0 for Hispanic and 38.4 for African-American children.” (Pew Hispanic Center, 2004)


It is clear that the state of Alabama has set its goals toward provision of excellent education for Hispanic elementary children and as well that the United States Department of Education has done precisely the same however, achievement gaps are still existent in both the Alabama and U.S. education system which must be addressed in order to meet the challenges of the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the United States in terms of meeting their educational needs.


1, McDade, Sharon a. (2002) Definition of a Case Study. Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. North Carolina State. Online available at

2, Case Study: Introduction and Definition (2006) Writing Guides: Conducting Case Studies: Colorado State University. Online available at

3. Hispanic, White Communities Forge Ties in Alabama (2003) a UA Center for Public Television and Radi9o Production. Online available at:

4. McDade, Sharon a. (2002) Definition of a Case Study. Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning – North Carolina State. Online available at http://www.ncsu.Edu/fctl/Programs/Instructional- Development/Teaching _Materials / CaseStudies/Materials / Case studyDefintion.pdf# search =%22 CASE%20STUDY % 3A%20DEFINIT ION%20OF %22.

5. UAB Wins $389,000 in Grants to Help Teachers Educate Non-English Speaking Children (2001) UAB Media Relations. 27 Nov 2001. Online available at

6. English Language Development and Multicultural Education (2005) University of Alabama. Berkeley University Online available at

7. English as a Second Language (ESL) (2004) Baldwin County Public Schools; Bay Minette, Alabama. Online available at’824’&DepartmentID=’958′.

8. UAB Wins $389,000 in Grants to Help Teachers Educate Non-English Speaking Children (2001) UAB Media Relations. 27 Nov 2001. Online available at

9. Alabama (2006) KYTESOL Newsletter Vol. XXVI, No.2 Spring 2006. Online available at

10, Hispanic School Achievement: Catching Up Requires Running Faster Than White Youth (2004) Pew Hispanic Center ‘Factsheet’ January 2004. Online available at

11. Alabama: Featured Facts (2005) From the SREB Factbook on Higher Education. Online available at

12. Alabama Education Policy Primer: Chapter 2 Achievement (2005) Education Foundation – Online available at;

Education for Hispanic Students in the Elementary Schools of Alabama

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