To be sure, the dual language program (DLP) here in Crook County has drawn a lot of attention, some of it negative.

Much of the negativity was spawned by an apparent lack of communication between program leaders and teachers, and the rest of the Ochoco Elementary staff.

At the Central Oregonian, we have published three recent stories on DLP describing its intent, the request of the district to expand, and the negative impact it has had on nonDLP components of the school system, most notably at Ochoco Elementary, where the program resides.

Our offices have also received a number of letters, some anonymous, questioning the effectiveness of the program.

The Central Oregonian’s web poll asking readers their thoughts about DLP showed that 62 percent felt it was cutting edge education, another 6 percent felt it could use some modifications and 32 percent thought it was not needed or unfair to nonDLP students. There was a total of 182 votes, a significant number compared to most of our polls.

It speaks to the emotional volatility and divisiveness of the issue.

Education districts are inundated with assessment requirements, starting with kindergarten readiness and ending with high school graduation rates. Like it or not, schools are measured by state and federal entities based on test results — be it the current OAKS testing or the upcoming Smarter Balanced testing associated with Common Core.

Crook County schools face additional challenges with a significant population of nonEnglish first speakers and a high percentage of poverty, typically measured by those eligible for the free lunch program.

This year marks the four-year completion date of the inaugural dual language program and the district can now only begin to measure its effectiveness.

Superintendent Duane Yecha has asked that the program be extended through grade 5, believing, as research tends to show, that six years of language immersion is required for student success.

In the wake of program criticism, Yecha has promised a series of meetings to address the concerns of all involved. He has also promised to be open about the discussion and regularly report its findings.

We applaud the new attempt at transparency and communication. The impact of communication breakdown was disappointing and had the potential to impact, in a negative way, the mission of our schools.

We hope that it results in an expanded and stronger program that assists the district in meetings its assessment goals and requirements, resulting in more successful students.

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