CCSD adapts to an increase of Spanish-speaking students

Published: Aug. 20, 2013 at 9:38 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2013 at 11:57 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - English as a second language is becoming more common as more Spanish-speaking families move into the Lowcountry. School districts have to adapt.

Charleston county schools have programs in place to help break the language barrier.

Paul Padron, assistant associate superintendent said, "They come to this country sometimes not speaking a word of English and they get thrown into a classroom setting and it becomes very difficult."

Last school year there were more than 3,200 Hispanic students going to school in Charleston County.

Padron says the transition for students can be difficult at first.

"I can relate, when I was 5 years old sitting in the classroom and knowing I knew the answer, but just didn't know how to say it," said Padron.

For those who need help with English, there's a program called English Speakers of Other Languages, also known as ESOL. Certified teachers go from school to school teaching students.

"An ESOL teacher really helps transition those kids and get them to a point where they can do well on the courses and as well as on the test," said Padron.

The district is pushing to improve the reading skill of all students and ESOL is there to help with student achievement.

While the program isn't only for Hispanic children, they do make up the largest group of non-English speaking students in the district.

For example, Midland Park Primary has the highest percentage of Hispanic students of any school in Charleston County. The group makes up 54% of the school's population.

There's also a title one offered through the Office of Enrichment Programs for English Language Learners. It's not only geared towards helping students, but also parents who are trying to learn English.

Celina Anthony, title one bilingual coordinator said, "Our goal is to teach them parenting skills, English of course and also how to manage their resources in the community."

Anthony says the graduation rate last year among Hispanic students went up by 15%. Their goal is to keep that number on the rise by breaking the language barrier.

The district is also offering a Spanish course at Morningside Middle School for qualified staff members.

It's open district-wide for many positions like nurses, guidance counselors and even substitute teachers.

The focus of the course is to help with communicating in schools.

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