An evaluative study of the perceptions of school personnel towards a training program involving the comprehension of basic Spanish language and culture

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1989
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Abstract

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) are located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, approximately fifteen miles south of Washington, D.C. This school system is the tenth largest in the United States and it has a student population of approximately 130,000. Because of the size of the FCPS system, it is divided into four administrative areas-Area I, Area II, Area III and Area IV.

Area II of FCPS has a student population of approximately 26,000 students, and of those 26,000 students, approximately 9 percent of them are of Hispanic origin. This English as a Second Language (ESL) population is of special interest to the school system because these students often do not possess the communication skills necessary for matriculation/ graduation. Therefore, their academic performance is frequently below average. This poses problems and raises concern for the educators that serve them.

As a part of FCPS' minority achievement program, which began in 1983, an Area II staff member initiated a two-part training program entitled, "Intensive Spanish for Educators" patterned on a similar program used with Arlington County, Virginia educators. The program carries university credit and provides a forum for the presentation of oral and aural Spanish language skills, as they relate to relevant school situations and Hispanic cultural awareness.

Based on the perceptions of the program participants, this dissertation represents an evaluation of the "Intensive Spanish for Educators" program, utilizing information obtained from on-site observations of class sessions, examination of planning documents/proposals/syllabi/etc., interviews with the program administrator/coordinators, program trainers and randomly selected program participants, and a questionnaire.

The results of this evaluative study indicated that the Intensive Spanish for Educators training program is a worthwhile and valuable program because it provides the opportunity for teachers, pupil personnel staff and administrators to acquire knowledge and skills in an area that can be used on a daily basis, it is well planned and it is sanctioned by the Area II Superintendent. The participants were enthusiastic about being in the program and felt the program should be strongly recommended, but not made mandatory.

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