Del Valle ISD testing program to combine Spanish and English learners in pre-K classes

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TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Del Valle ISD is expanding its prekindergarten program to full-day classes at all nine of its elementary schools.

Moving to full-day pre-K, interim Superintendent Dr. Annette Tielle-Villerot said, should boost enrollment because a lot of families can’t get their kids to or from school in the middle of the day.

Plus, she said, “many of our parents don’t have resources to provide the other half of the day for childcare services.”

Last year the district enrolled about 300 kids in pre-K; about 50% of Del Valle kindergartners in the last several years also went to pre-K in the district. Administrators expect both of those numbers to rise now that there are more options for parents.

Research shows kids in pre-K are more likely to read on grade level by third grade, do better on state tests down the road and even graduate.

“Prekindergarten really sets the foundation for students,” said Newton Collins Elementary School principal Suzi Wallace. “It builds those basic skills that students need to be successful throughout their school career.”

The district is starting a new initiative this year that it’s calling a two-way dual language program to teach both English and Spanish learners in the same classrooms.

The pilot program, just at Hillcrest Elementary, will offer space to 72 students this first year, 36 for English speakers and 36 for bilingual students.

“That means that we have English language learners and Spanish language learners side by side, both gaining literacy,” Tielle-Villerot said.

She told KXAN the district hopes to expand the pilot program in the coming years.

“Our ultimate goal in Del Valle ISD is to create bi-literate students,” she said. “85% of our students in Del Valle ISD are Hispanic and almost 40% of our students…are English language learners.”

The district is hosting a pre-K enrollment fair Thursday, Aug. 1, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Del Valle Opportunity Center at 5301 Ross Road. Parents can sign up for pre-K, check immunization records and update any shots their kids might need.

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