Bilingual classes try to push Latinos toward college
Four high schools in Southern California are offering math and science courses using online curriculum from Mexico to get more Latino students to meet requirements to go to college.
By Matt Stevens and Dalina Castellanos
February 4, 2012
At Sylmar High and three other high schools in Southern California, instructors are running some of the state's only rigorous bilingual math and science classes using online curriculum from Mexico. The idea: to get more Latino students to take and pass the courses they need to go to college.
Project SOL (Secondary Online Learning) is a collaborative effort between UCLA professor Patricia Gandara, the University of California system and the Mexican Colegio de Bachilleres, which developed the digital math and science curriculum.
The program began at four high schools in 2008 with $1.2 million in grants. Besides Sylmar, the other schools involved are Franklin in East Los Angeles, Brawley Union in Imperial County and Chula Vista in San Diego County. So far, nearly 500 students have enrolled in at least one of seven bilingual courses. The program accounts for about 18% of all high school students in the state learning in a primary language.
Though more than half of California's schoolchildren are Latino, Gandara said research shows that only about 13% of them nationwide will earn a bachelor's degree.
"We want to be the same as the other students," said Sylmar senior Karla Ibarra, 18. "Even better than the other students — to show them that we can do it."
Researchers say rigorous math and science courses are seldom available to students learning English, even though such courses are required for admission to four-year universities.
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