In 1997, Neuhaus Education Center began a three-year collaboration with Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) to offer 60 hours of professional development for their teachers. BISD chose Neuhaus Education Center’s Language Enrichment curriculum for all first- and second-grade teachers in the district. This curriculum was chosen because it provides a broad base of scientifically validated knowledge about reading, writing, and spelling.
Brownsville, Texas, is located on the Texas-Mexico border, 300 miles south of Houston. It was not economical for the teachers to travel to Houston, nor was there sufficient Neuhaus staff to send to Brownsville. As a result, the professional development was provided to the BISD teachers through Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC). Ultimately, 478 first- and second-grade teachers received professional development in Language Enrichment via IVC.
During the first two years of the collaboration, Neuhaus staff members observed each teacher via IVC or on-site visits. During the second year of the collaboration, each school appointed a facilitator who was charged with the responsibility of providing materials and support for the teachers. Neuhaus staff members worked closely with these facilitators, furthered their knowledge of the curriculum and helped develop their skills in observing and mentoring other teachers.
The state mandated reading test scores of 522 third-grade students from thirteen BISD elementary schools have been analyzed. The results show that third-grade students who received Language Enrichment in second grade performed at significantly higher levels of proficiency on the test than third-grade students who did not receive Language Enrichment in second grade. Furthermore, students who received Language Enrichment from teachers who had participated in the professional development early in the school year did better than students whose teachers participated in the professional development later in the year. The results indicate that early instruction in Language Enrichment significantly enhanced students’ performance on the third-grade state-mandated reading test. This achievement was demonstrated by a majority of students whose primary language is not English.
Additionally, standardized achievement test results from six randomly selected BISD elementary schools have been analyzed. Those results indicate that fifth-grade students who received Language Enrichment during one or both semesters of second grade outperformed students who did not receive Language Enrichment in second grade. There were approximately 100 students in each group, and although both groups spent the same amount of class time on reading instruction, the students taught with Language Enrichment achieved significantly higher scores on tests of reading, spelling, and math. These results again support the efficacy of Language Enrichment and suggest that (1) Language Enrichment boosts longitudinal achievement for at least three years after the instruction took place, and (2) that the enhanced achievement extends beyond language arts to higher mathematics scores.