Refugee Students Getting the Chance to Catch Up
Lakewood School District enters into agreement with Asian Services Inc. to provide after-school tutoring to refugee students.
The Lakewood School District is getting some help teaching 80 refugee students from around the world who have settled in Lakewood.
The schools entered into an agreement with Asian Services in Action at Monday’s school board meeting that will offer after-school tutoring to refugee students from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Assistant superintendent Kevin Bright said the goal for the students is to “accelerate assimilation and accelerate their learning,”
“Cognitively, it takes four to seven years to get caught up,” he said. “We’re trying to speed up that process. We’re marshaling our resources during the regular school day and this is an added effort.”
Students are set to begin the twice-per-week after-school program at Emerson Elementary School next Tuesday.
Some of the tools in ASA’s arsenal include computers, specialized software and leveled books, Bright said. Two teachers will assist with the tutoring program, with the district using Title II funds to pay them.
School officials said research has shown that refugee students fall behind compared with their classmates of the same age as they struggle to catch up while speaking English as a second language.
Their state-mandated standardized test scores take a hit, too, dropping the district’s standing on the state report card.
Board vice president Ed Favre said he expects the program to help students catch up, but added that it can be difficult for refugee students to begin standardized testing one year after arriving in the US.
“It’s inherently unfair when you ask a kid to take a test and fail,” he said at Monday’s board meeting. “We don’t send our kids off to fail in Lakewood.”
Many of the refugee students come from Nepal, Burma and Taiwan, but being from Asia isn’t a prerequisite for participation in the program.
“There are 183 refugees (in the Lakewood School District) and 95 percent of them were born in refugee camps,” said Bright, adding that there are more than 450 students who speak English as a second language. “We need to redouble our efforts to help them.”
Lakewood schools spokeswoman Christine Gordillo called the partnership “a win-win for everybody.”
“We’re trying our best to close the gap, while doing what our community does, which is help,” she said.