How emerging bilingual students at Fleming Middle School tackle NES model

HOUSTON – The transformations at the Houston Independent School District have presented significant challenges for students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

Spearheaded by state-appointed superintendent Mike Miles, the implementation of the New Education System aimed to enhance academic performance in underperforming campuses.

However, imagine navigating through these curriculum adjustments alongside students and educators who speak a different language, further complicating the learning journey.

That’s the reality for HISD’s large population of emerging bilingual students, many of whom are trying to learn under the fast-paced, rigorous NES curriculum.

While being embedded in Fleming Middle School for the school year to see how they navigate the new model, we looked at how bilingual students are handling the pressure.

Seventh graders, Miley and Juan, are both new to Fleming Middle School and neither of them spoke any English when they met their classmates and teachers on the first day of school.

“Is school difficult?” KPRC 2 reporter Candace Burns asked.

“Un poco,” Juan answered.

Although navigating the new curriculum without speaking the native language is challenging, Miley and Juan said they are still tasked with keeping up with their peers.

Superintendent Mike Miles said the new curriculum is intended to improve every student’s academic achievement and prepare them for the future.

During Juan’s English class, Candace sat with him to see just how difficult translating would be for him and his teacher who doesn’t speak Spanish.

Juan said when he needs help, he asks a friend or another teacher who speaks Spanish.

The district has put some measures in place to help emerging bilingual students, like providing a class that helps them learn the basics of English.

Fleming MS also has a teacher who works specifically with emerging bilingual students, an option that wasn’t available to them last year.

Currently, there are 70,203 emerging bilingual students like Juan and Miley at HISD. Together, they make up about 34% of the district.

Despite the obstacles, Juan and Miley both say they enjoy school and their teachers and enjoy learning.

Juan says he plans to become a politician, hoping to bring meaningful impact to future students in his shoes.

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