The number of Keller district students learning English as a second language increased by more than 12 percent in the last year, according to district officials.
In an Oct. 17 report to trustees, Mary Martin, director of language acquisition, said that 2,771 students enrolled in Keller schools this fall are English language learners, or ELL students, compared to 2,461 in 2015-16. The ELL population grew by about 5 percent the previous year.
About half the ELL students are in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, while the other half of the students are in intermediate, middle and high school.
Close to 60 percent of the students speak Spanish as their home language. Vietnamese is the second most common but includes less than 11 percent of the total. The other languages in the top six reported were Arabic, Nepali, Laotian and Korean.
In total, Keller district ELL students speak 57 different languages.
The district has nine campuses with bilingual Spanish classes: both the Early Learning Centers (North and South); Basswood, Caprock, Freedom, North Riverside and Whitley Road Elementary schools; and Chisholm Trail and Trinity Meadows intermediate schools. Bilingual Vietnamese classes are held at the Early Learning Center North and Parkview Elementary School.
Martin also reported an overview of results from the 2016 STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) for bilingual education, English as a second language and limited English proficiency students.
Bilingual students performed well on math, reading and writing. Limited English proficiency students had good passing rates on all end-of-course exams.
Martin said the area where ELL students struggled the most was on the STAAR social studies test.
“Students get multiple hits in the social studies area,” she said. “They don’t have a background in U.S. history, and they also have to read and write at a high level.”