Some readers of this blog are familiar with our school’s Family Literacy Project where we provide computers and home Internet access to immigrant families. This effort has been recognized by the International Reading Association. Students with home computers (who use our website for one hour each day), typically have a three-to-four times greater gain in our cloze and fluency assessments over control group members.
The Sacramento Mutual Housing Association (SMHA), one of the most respected affordable housing organizations in California (if not in the United States), began piloting a similar project in one of their developments.
They hired the bilingual aides — Xee Vang and Kou Vang — who help in our school’s project so that they could work with SMHA immigrant residents to lead an on-site computer and English literacy program at the development’s computer lab. Families attended a three-month, twice-weekly, two hour class to learn English and develop computer skills. The twelve families who graduated from the program are receiving their own computer and will be able to continue to use the wireless network at the site, with similar “homework” expectations.
In our project at Burbank High School, we never really followed-up on parent English language assessments — it was hard enough to find the time to regularly do ones with students. And we have never really looked at assessing computer skill development, either. In the SMHA project, however, both were done — in fact, the primary emphasis of the course was on adults, though younger family members also periodically attended, and the results were pretty darn impressive.
Almost all of the participants in the program were Beginning English Language Learner adults — half of them were Vietnamese and half were Hmong. The average initial English assessment scores were 69.7% and by the end of three months they stood at 98.8%. And in the computer skills assessment, the first scores averaged 14.2%, while the final average was 95.6%.
Here are links to some of the projects created by participants:
SMHA begins a second class later this month at about the same time we’ll be starting-up another year of our school-based effort. Wish us both luck!