At this one-of-a-kind Boston public high school, students learn calculus in Spanish

Educators believe teaching in two languages can be key to student success. Boston — When the Boston Public Schools opened the Margarita Muñiz Academy in 2012, it was a first-of-its kind dual-language high school meant to address issues faced by the city’s growing Hispanic population.

At the time, Hispanic students were both the most likely to drop out of the city’s schools and the least likely to enroll in college when compared to black, white and Asian students. They still are, but as the academy enters its sixth full year, its student outcomes are drawing praise from a variety of sources, even while administrators note that steep challenges remain.

The idea behind the Muñiz Academy, named for the longtime principal of Boston’s first dual-language elementary school (the Rafael Hernandez K-8 school), was that many Hispanic students would do better in schools that support their cultural background and, with it, the Spanish language. In Boston Public Schools, roughly 39 percent of Hispanic high school students are classified as “English-language learners” because they don’t speak English fluently. Perhaps not surprisingly, these students drop out at higher rates than any other major subgroup. But not at the Muñiz Academy. 

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