Choice Starts Young in Texas Public Schools

    PROFILES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE & INNOVATION

    This is the latest in a series of stories highlighting how public schools are increasingly offering quality choice and innovation to Texas students and families.

    Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD

    “Adorable” may be the first word that comes to mind when you see a five-year-old stand tall and proud, balancing his little homemade violin bow on his shoulder, but what is really happening is multi-faceted and directly tied to brain development and academic potential.

    Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD is transforming expectations for its students and families by offering innovative choices, including its Suzuki Strings and World Languages programs, that are available to the district’s youngest learners.

    HEB ISD is a shining example of how public school districts of all sizes, demographics, and locations are pushing the boundaries of innovation and 21st century learning, and expanding quality school choice for students across Texas. The district’s story below is a model for other public school districts – not just urban and suburban – that are exploring ways to be responsive to communities and families, while preserving the transparency and accountability that defines quality school choice.

    HEB-ISD

    District Profile

    • Enrollment: 22,834
    • 53% Low-income
    • More than 70 languages spoken by district students
    • 2016 graduation rate: 95.2%
    • 2016 International Baccalaureate graduates: 168

    Different By Design

    Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD considers itself a Continuous Improvement School District. They utilize a systems-approach to assessing performance across multiple domains and making data-driven decisions to guide district and campus goals and operations. In other words, district leaders make decisions with the best interests of students and the community in mind. Knowing their actions have a ripple effect, an intentional approach is critical.

    ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS OF CHOICE

    This is not the elementary school classroom of your grandparents. Students are exploring Chinese, playing the violin, and giving presentations in Spanish.

    Hurst-Euless-Bedford’s Elementary Schools of Choice program embodies 21st century learning and personalization in education. Starting as young as kindergarten, district students have access to programs that go well beyond the standard curriculum and provide expanded opportunities for HEB ISD families. Following elementary school, students have the option of continuing their language studies through the International Business Initiative (IBI) program in junior high and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in high school.

    Sixteen of Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD’s 20 elementary schools offer choice programs in the following areas:

    SUZUKI STRINGS

    The Suzuki Strings choice option provides students with the earliest training in orchestral skills with the internationally-renowned Suzuki instructional approach. Research shows playing a string instrument provides benefits far beyond the musical sphere, including math, science and reading. Many students in this elementary program later choose to participate in the district’s award-winning 7th – 12th grade secondary orchestra.

    SPANISH IMMERSION

    Students in Spanish immersion learn their core curriculum in Spanish, providing language acquisition opportunities far beyond a traditional language course. Starting in second grade, after much of the Spanish language foundation has been formed, students begin to receive some direct instruction in English. As a result of this solid start, many of these students choose to continue on to advanced language courses, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) later in their academic career.

    WORLD LANGUAGES

    Beginning with first grade, students in the World Languages program are exposed to vocabulary and instruction in Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic. By middle school, students may choose one language to pursue for an opportunity to gain mastery and fluency in one of these languages so critical to global communications.

    At our school, the expectation for parents is if your child is enrolled in any schools of choice program, part of your commitment is that regardless of the age of your child, or the grade level they are in, there is a parent commitment. And all of our parents live up to that commitment they have made. And they are a vital part of our success as a school.
    Dr. Aungelique Brading
    Principal, Viridian Elementary, HEB ISD
    HEB-ISD-8
    Choice draws people. But I also think our high academic standards draw people. That may be the first draw. Once they come in and see all the options that are there, that just puts the exclamation point on the end that they’ve made a great choice.”
    Lydia Martin
    Deputy Superintendent for Educational Operations, HEB ISD
    HEB-ISD-1
    “These are the kinds of elements of choice that are positives for our parents and our students, but are not negatives on the system. They don’t take money out of the system; they keep the system moving at a high level of efficiency.”
    Faye Beaulieu
    School Board Trustee
    HEB-ISD-2
    “Imagine a kid that plays the violin, cello, or bass — has been playing since kindergarten. They go through high school and they’ve picked up Chinese, Hindi, or Arabic as a second language. In some cases they’re trilingual. Their opportunity is going to be endless.”
    Randy Belcher
    Principal, Central Junior High School, HEB ISD
    HEB-ISD-6

    Spanish Immersion at Viridian Elementary

    Spanish Immersion is one of the most popular choices among families of elementary school students in Hurst-Eueless-Bedford ISD. In this program, students take their core classes in Spanish, with extracurricular classes provided in English. Students receive direct instruction in the English language beginning in the second semester of second grade. Additional time is provided for the teaching of English in the following years, through sixth grade. Students who complete the elementary program have an opportunity to continue their immersion studies in secondary school through accelerated Spanish classes, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate.

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