The many learning from my week at The National Association of Bilingual Educators (NABE) Conference in New York City.
In speaking with educators, principals, administrators, dual language specialists and others there were certain things that became very clear. Teachers have a very important job, but most are overworked and under paid. They are charged with teaching our children, but are often under appreciated.
Not enough teachers. In speaking to teachers, principals and recruiters at the conference, one thing became abundantly clear. There are simply not enough teachers, especially in bilingual or dual language education. According the Economic Policy Institute, “the teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought. When indicators of teacher quality (certification, relevant training, experience, etc.) are taken into account, the shortage is even more acute than currently estimated, with high-poverty schools suffering the most from the shortage of credentialed teachers”. https://www.epi.org/publication/the-teacher-shortage-is-real-large-and-growing-and-worse-than-we-thought-the-first-report-in-the-perfect-storm-in-the-teacher-labor-market-series/
The case with bilingual or dual language teachers seems to be even more critical. I spoke with dozens of recruiters from across the country and they all said the same thing. They have dozens of vacant positions in their respective school districts, but cannot seem to fill the available jobs. As a matter of fact, many teachers are actually leaving the profession.
A recent article describes what bilingual teachers do as “invisible work”. The article published in Education Week states “translating and creating curriculum materials in languages other than English that falls on the shoulders of dual-language bilingual educators too often goes unrecognized and is never remunerated. That responsibility could lead to teachers leaving the profession.” https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/the-invisible-burden-some-bilingual-teachers-face/2020/02
Bi-lingual students need additional support in math and science. Latinos make up nearly 18% of the working population in the U.S., but only about 6% of STEM employees. Latinas make up less than 2% of STEM workers in the country. According to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics “Hispanics are underrepresented in undergraduate and graduate STEM programs and are not sufficiently exposed to STEM subjects at the K-12 Levels.” Latinos/Hispanics make up 22.7% of the students in the country but an insufficient number moves into STEM education. https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/list/hispanic-initiative/stem-factsheet.pdf
Covid-19 has affected learning – The conversations I had with educators clearly indicated that the pandemic has taking a major toll on learning. These anecdotes correlate with studies that have been published on learning loss due to Covid-19. A recent McKinsey study showed that the “impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year. The pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest.” https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-learning-loss-disparities-grow-and-students-need-help
The ongoing pandemic has only made the situation worse as many teachers call in sick there is also a massive shortage of substitute teachers. A recent article by the Brookings Institute underscored this fact. In most cases the hardest hit by the lack of substitutes are the already disadvantaged schools which puts them further behind. Brookings highlighted that “teacher absences are not only common, but also detrimental to student learning”. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2020/10/21/america-faces-a-substitute-teacher-shortage-and-disadvantaged-schools-are-hit-hardest/
Detracking is term to that refers to when students are intentionally positioned into classes with other students of mixed ability. Defenders of this policy believe that this will allow for equitable outcomes as these students will now have access to upper-level/college prep courses. Brookings indicates the evidence on tracking vs detracking is unclear.
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2021/10/04/does-detracking-promote-educational-equity/. Most studies indicate that detracting may work “under certain conditions”. However most agree that by simply pushing students up to the next level with providing supplemental assistance is setting them up for failure. Additional intervention will be required.
What is the solution? The answer to all of the aforementioned issues is supplemental instruction or tutoring. The Brookings institute reported that “tutoring is remarkably effective at helping students learn, with over 80% of studies reporting statistically significant effects.” https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2020/10/06/tutoring-a-time-tested-solution-to-an-unprecedented-pandemic/#:~:text=We%20found%20that%20tutoring%20is,studies%20reporting%20statistically%20significant%20effects.&text=In%20other%20words%2C%20with%20the,to%20the%2066th%20percentile.
However, if there are not enough teachers and additional instruction is the key for success, how do schools rectify this problem? Papaya Tutor offers affordable, accessible, high quality, online, bilingual, STEM tutoring seven days per week. Papaya is working with districts across the country offering after school programs, summer programs, accelerated learning courses, SAT prep, coding workshops and much more.
Papaya Tutor is a true collaborator in the classroom helping teachers reach more students. Papaya is helping students increase scores on standardized tests, improve letter grades, grow in confidence and most importantly develop of love for STEM education. https://papayatutor.com/
Please feel free to reach out to me directly to learn more.