Amy Pro and  Alba Ortiz speak at LUCHA Symposium
K-16 Education Center's Dr. Amy Pro (center) and guest speaker Dr. Alba Ortiz (right) at the LUCHA Symposium.

LUCHA offers help to Texas educators for improving graduation, decreasing dropout rates


On May 11, 2010, educators from 15 Texas school districts were welcomed by Continuing & Innovative Education (CIE) to the Thompson Conference Center for a seminar on how the LUCHA program can help them increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates for English language learners (ELL). LUCHA is an award-winning, innovative program designed to help ease the transition for Spanish-speaking students from Mexico seeking to enroll and transfer credit to Texas public high schools. After its first four years of operation, LUCHA has delivered more than 5,000 online courses to more than 2,000 students and has recommended that Texas schools recognize more than 10,000 high school credits from Mexico. By correctly placing these students in the school system so that they aren’t repeating classes or grade levels, LUCHA has saved Texas school districts an estimated $12 million.

“The LUCHA program assists ELL students with credit accrual and advancement through content specific courses so they are able to stay on track for graduation,” stated Dr. Amy Pro, program coordinator for CIE’s K-16 Education Center. “The LUCHA Symposium provided districts with the opportunity to come together for one day to learn about current research trends, LUCHA services, and how two districts have successfully addressed this issue.”

The day-long symposium kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. Alba Ortiz, professor of special education and director of the Office of Bilingual Education at The University of Texas at Austin. In her address, she stated: “In Texas, we serve the second largest number of ELL in the country. As the demographics of our state changes, the welfare of our school districts and the welfare of our society hinges on our ability to educate these students. The goal of bilingual education programs or ELL programs [such as LUCHA] is to help these students to develop sufficient skills, not only to do well in school, but also to transition into society and be able to go to college or attain a job in the community.”

According to the Department of Education, there are 5.1 million ELL in U.S. public schools. In Texas about 16% of students enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 are identified as ELL.

Seminar attendees heard presentations from two Texas school districts—Brownsville Independent School District and Pasadena Independent School District—that have successfully incorporated LUCHA into their schools. Prior to the symposium, Elizabeth Llongueras, bilingual/ESL counselor with Brownsville ISD offered: “LUCHA has had a tremendous impact on the lives of over 500 recent immigrants in Brownsville since the inception of the program. I have no doubt that this program is not only helping us change lives, but it is impacting generations.”

More information about LUCHA is found on its Web site.


Tags: lucha symposium, lucha, k-16 education center, amy pro, alba ortiz,