By Maria J. Treviño
The Middle School Spanish 4 Program was developed through a grant awarded in 2000 by the United States Department of Education to the Advanced Academics Unit at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in Austin, Texas. The Advanced Academics Unit coordinated with the Languages other than English Unit (LOTE) to develop what came to be known as the Texas Middle School Program for AP Spanish. At the time of its inception, I was Director of LOTE at TEA which is how I became involved with this program.
The program was designed specifically with Spanish-speakers in mind who also came from an economically disadvantaged background. However, any student who met a certain level of Spanish proficiency could apply for the course. The goal of the program was to promote student success as well as build self- confidence in the student. In addition, the objective was to place college education in the forefront of these students’ radar.
This program was of great importance in meeting the needs of Spanish-speakers.
Many students came from families in which Spanish was the first language and some parents did not speak English. In addition, in many families none of the children had previously attended college. Offering this type of course made a huge difference in the student’s future outlook, specifically that a college education was an attainable goal.
One of the main points that attracted students to this course was the very fact that this course validated the students’ native language, that Spanish was a viable tool towards receiving college credit early on. The MS Program for AP Spanish paved the groundwork for students to enroll in more AP courses in high school, obtain more college credits, and graduate from high school with college credits before even attending a university.
The first seven school districts to participate in the program were Austin Independent School District (ISD), Brownsville ISD, Irving ISD, McKinney ISD, Tyler ISD, Valley View ISD, and Ysleta ISD (El Paso). Thirteen additional school districts applied during the second round of grant applications in 2002. In 2006, the Texas Education Agency awarded planning grants to 59 schools to continue increasing student participation in this program around the state.
María J. Fierro-Treviño
Instructional Specialist, Northside Independent School District, San Antonio, TX. (Retired)
Director for Languages other than English, Texas Education Agency (Retired)