GRAPEVINE — Educators at Grapevine-Colleyville schools hope immigrant families will be better able to chart their youngsters’ educational paths and connect with campus communities when a new center opens this year.The district is starting a Language Assessment Center to gauge the needs of youngsters entering schools as English learners.“We are very excited about this opportunity and this new center,” said Jodi Cox, director of world languages for Grapevine-Colleyville schools. “It’s the first step for enrollment for immigrant families or families who are new to the district who have students who are learning English.”The center, which will have a soft opening in May during kindergarten registration, is meant to streamline resources to better serve students, Cox said. The center will be in a portable building at Timberline Elementary School and will fully open by summer.“We will serve students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grades,” Cox said.Two staff professionals will collect and assess family and language data that will be used to place students in programs.The district has about 13,400 students, spokeswoman Megan Overman said. Almost 1,200 are in several language programs, including English as a second language, bilingual education and dual language.The district is described as global: At Bear Creek Elementary School in Euless, 30 languages are spoken, Cox said.“The most common language other than English is Spanish,” Cox said, adding that the district has seen an increase in students from families that speak Urdu or Arabic in the home.Cox said that the demand for language services is growing and that such assessment centers are more common in large urban districts.Anne Marie Weiss-Armush, president of the DFW International Community Alliance, said the trend reflects the continuing shift of immigrants from larger cities to suburbs. “Spanish speakers are everywhere,” Weiss-Armush said. “Every area is seeing these changes.”The community alliance is a network of international organizations based in North Texas. The group has compiled profiles of immigrant and refugee communities in the region.Weiss-Armush said that as cities such as Dallas and Fort Worth redevelop urban corridors and experience gentrification, immigrants look for new places with affordable homes.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1