Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Denny to Become Newest International School

Update: the PI reports today that both Concord and Denny are becoming international schools. Here's a link to the district's webpage on International Education. I did not find any district news release.

Checking in over at the West Seattle blog, I find that Denny is going to be the next "international" school following in JSIS and Hamilton and Beacon Hill. The blog says it is to be formally announced at tonight's Board meeting (although the agenda doesn't reflect that). From Principal Clark's letter to parents:

"First, I am thrilled to announce that Denny Middle School is officially becoming an International School, starting next year. As an international school, we will be continuing to offer our students a rigorous academic education, coupled with a global perspective in all of our classes and new world language options, including a new dual language Spanish option."

This is good news for the south end. More options for each area of the district are always good. I wish the new K-8 might have this focus so the north end would have an option. (That would leave only the NW without at least an elementary international school option.)

Roosevelt's PTSA meeting tonight (7 p.m. in the library, we do the business meeting first and then the topic for the evening) is going to focus on our World Languages department. I bring this up because a post in a previous thread mentioned a rumor that RHS is going to be the International languages high school. I plan on asking this question to both our principal and the head of the department.

I've been wondering why there is no designated high school for languages. Even if every high school has foreign language, it may not be enough for students who have been through one of the international elementaries and/or middle school.

26 comments:

Maureen said...

I wonder if there will there be an International K-5 to feed into Denny? Given that the District seems to be headed for feeder patterns for Elementary to Middle School (at least) it seems that a new International MS should have been linked to Beacon (like JSIS and Hamilton). Will Beacon kids have a preference at Denny even though they are in different clusters? (Are the languages even the same?).

The MS to HS link of this does make sense (Denny to the IB at Sealth), but if that makes sense, then Hamilton should feed to Ingraham, not Roosevelt. I know that the JSIS families at Hamilton want Roosevelt, but it is so popular for so many other reasons ... why not spread the love a little and steer them toward Ingraham? (By the way, JSIS and Hamilton are both in the NW cluster, Beacon is S...what other International Schools are there?)

Central Mom said...

Melissa, Thanks for passing along the language immersion news. Good to see the District is attempting to replicate popular programs. On the other hand, your comment about location/access to the program isn’t accurate.
There are now 3 language immersion elementary schools.
Concord (West Seattle/South cluster)
Beacon Hill (South clsuter)
JSIS (NW cluster. Yes, believe it or not, NW cluster includes this gerrymandered school)
Hamilton is the “north end” language immersion middle school and Denny will now be the “south end” middle school.
I don’t know about Concord, but JSIS is very full of pretty much only Wallingfordites, and Beacon Hill appears to be rapidly filling now, too. In any case, there isn’t exactly equitable, let alone plentiful, access to the elementary programs. A roadmap from the district as to the regional areas scheduled for new language programs certainly would be nice.
And how the middle school enrollment into the international programs will fit in with the new assignment plan is still to be announced. Last I heard, it was a middle school feeder program based on home address, not on elementary program, and no decision had been made about what to do w/ assignment priority based on programs.

Maureen said...

Thanks Central Mom!I missed Concord--it doesn't show up on the SPS web site search when you plug in "International School," and even when you plug in "International School Concord" it only shows up in one line of the Concord 2008 Annual Report. That web site drives me nuts! (Yes I did complete the survey!).

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yeah, I forgot how gerrymandered the regions are. I was considering JSIS more to the east. Ditto on Hamilton. I'm not sure that Concord is an international school (it isn't listed that way at the SPS website). What one mom at a meeting said was the Concord had language classes but not language immersion.

Roy Smith said...

I absolutely agree that it would not make sense to designate Roosevelt as the "International High School" - Roosevelt has so many things already attracting students (in preference to other high schools) that it doesn't make sense to add yet another attraction for students to go there.

The logical choices for International High Schools may be Sealth and Ingraham, which also have IB, and thus the international focus would be strengthened for those two schools.

another mom said...

Seems like a S.end High School should add I.B. Maybe Cleveland or Franklin?

TechyMom said...

I'd vote for Franklin. It's a great location for a wide-area draw, with a freeway entrance, two arterials with bus service, and a Sound Transit station. Another option for a strong academic program would also take some pressure off of nearby Garfield.

Charlie Mas said...

Each of the international elementary schools has its own model. The Beacon Hill model is different from the JSIS model and they are both different from the Concord model.

Hamilton is the only international middle school, but I have heard that Denny was heading that way since it was clear that IB was coming to Sealth. At that time the suggestion was that it would replace Spectrum as their ALO model and that Madison would start a Spectrum program. Of course Spectrum is not mutually exclusive of being an international school (see Hamilton for reference).

During the closures I was promoting an international middle school at South Shore. The District didn't go for that. Mercer is now the most promising location. It is the closest middle school to Beacon Hill and Mercer has some of the elements already - do they still have that association with the Port of Seattle? Franklin would be a pretty good choice as an IB location, but I wonder if IB couldn't fill one of the academies at Cleveland. It is the top of the feeder pattern for Beacon Hill Elementary and Mercer, and IB would improve the school's academic reputation and attract some students to a Southeast Initiative school

emeraldkity said...

I would be happy if all high schools would offer a min of two languages for all students who chose, through 4 years. ( and taking through level 4 or AP of a lang, not 2 years of one and two years of another).

However- from what I have experienced, language teachers are difficult to find and retain.

Very difficult.

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...

Those of us at JSIS have been wondering for a long time about where the international high school will be. We're still wondering.

The first language "immersion" program graduates from JSIS/Hamilton went to high school last year -- with no program to go to! Most went to Roosevelt, but the world language classes there are not a good fit for their skills.

Ingraham is more willing to support an international program than Roosevelt (you're right, RHS has too much going on).

The trouble is -- I'm not sure simply having IB program makes a school an "international high school". Not all kids who go through language immersion will be necessarily interested in, or able to function in IB, so what do we do to include them?

One bright spot is in AP. I heard that the College Board is thinking of revising AP world language classes so that they are more about communication than conjugating lists of verbs (like the classes at RHS). It would be great if all AP world language classes could be a fit for immersion students, since AP world language is at many high schools and that would give immersion graduates more options than just going into IB.

And -- is JSIS is "gerrymandered"?. In the southern half of north end you're either NW or NE. "North" cluster is too far north for JSIS. So take your pick.

Josh Hayes said...

I could have sworn that the IB program has a language requirement in it, but I can't for the life of me find it.

It only makes sense that to get an International Baccalaureate, one would have to speak more than one language, but I can't find where it explicitly says that. Even so, one would think that Ingraham would have to provide vigorous foreign-language programs, right?

Charlie Mas said...

Hamilton International School has more rooms configured for use as language labs than other middle schools. Will the New Denny get some architectural design changes to include additional language labs?

emeraldkity said...

IB does have a language requirement.

The aim is to promote an understanding of another culture through the study of a second language. A large range of modern languages are available plus two classical languages (Latin and classical Greek).

The main emphasis of the modern language courses is on language acquisition and use in a range of contexts and for different purposes. Three options are available to accommodate students with different backgrounds.

Language ab initio courses are for beginners, ie students who have no previous experience of learning the language they have chosen. These courses are only available at standard level.
Language B courses are intended for students who have had some previous experience of learning the language. They may be studied at either higher level or standard level.
Language A2 courses are designed for students who have a high level of competence in the language they have chosen. They include the study of both language and literature, and are available at higher level and standard level.


One of the differences IMO between Seattle public and private schools, has been that- language classes in public high school, do not take into account study in middle school. This seems to be because of lower level instruction in middle school and lack of advanced classes in high school.

My younger daughter took two years of FL in middle school, but started at level one when entering high school. She essentially was only able to continue through 2nd level, as her third year was mostly taught by substitutes as the teacher was on leave and so she didn't feel prepared for the next level which was AP, senior year.

In private school, my daughter was able to take two years of Latin ( required), in middle school, go on to 1st year FL and as a senior take 5th year FL.

Ingraham appears to offer through 5th year, French, Spanish and Japanese.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reporting back from the RHS PTSA meeting last night, our principal, Brian Vance, said there have been no discussions, formal or informal, on RHS becoming the "international" high school. He could not speak to any discussions of other high schools. He said he wasn't even sure what that would mean to be an "international" high school.

He did say that RHS is adding another AP Spanish class (Literature) because we are having more and more students (not just Hamilton) who come in with 2 years of Spanish who run out of classes before senior year. He also said the World Languages department at RHS is working on trying to figure out how to serve Hamilton kids in a classroom with kids who haven't had immersion because the RHS language teachers recognize the need. We had a couple of Hamilton parents there who were able to add to this discussion.

One issue that does cloud this topic is the assignment plan. Where will Hamilton feeds into under a new plan? Ballard? Roosevelt? Hale? Then, whatever school that is will have to plan for that cohort and the district would need to support it if indeed they intend to have follow-thru for the "international" program. (The district doesn't follow-thru on APP and Spectrum for high school and leaves it with AP and Honors classes. It may be that Hamilton is the end of the line for international programming.)

Of course, if the district does open another high school at Lincoln (the idea being to give QA/Magnolia a high school), that would be a natural fit for a trifeca locating of JSIS and Hamilton. But that's a ways off.

Dorothy said...

EmeraldKity, my experience is a little different. Kids who took two years of FL at Eckstein start high school at second year level. There are for example, a number of RHS students who take AP Japanese as Juniors. Same is true for Spanish, I believe.
-----------

Completely different sort of comment follows: I was just struck by the analogy of Foreign Language and Mathematics. The district is supporting immersion and other rigorous learning of foreign language to achieve fluency. You don't have kids having to "discover" how to speak a language with texts that only hint at vocabulary and sentence structure, with teachers who are not fluent themselves. No, we get students to language fluency by having them spend lots and lots of time practicing their skills with qualified teachers and explanatory materials. Mathematical fluency requires nothing less. Sigh.

hschinske said...

To my knowledge, it's standard for two years of foreign language classes in middle school to equal one year of a high school course. I was asking about that at Hamilton (since students get three years, which presumably works out to about one and a half at HS), and the principal said that basically some test into second-year classes and some test into third-year.

Good point about the language/math thing -- but language classes are also somewhat self-sorting, with the more unusual languages attracting the more committed students on average (beginning Latin is probably just as easy as beginning Spanish, but in practice it's taken mostly by academically-minded students).

Helen Schinske

Central Mom said...

There's a story about the District's Int. School plans in the Times today:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/
html/education/2008735152
_international12m.html

WS said...

We posted the district news release last night. It's linked from the last paragraph of our updated story published after the announcement at last night's meeting. - Tracy at West Seattle Blog

emeraldkity said...

since my D was in middle school at Summit- she was taking her language classes along with high school students ( 6th graders were part of elementary- 7th & 8th graders, took electives alongside high school students)
lSummit had a difficult time finding language teachers ( but then so did Garfield)

Not having strong instruction in middle school wasn't as big of a problem IMO, as not having qualified subs tin high school- not that they weren't qualfied to teach as a substitute, but to qualify to sub as a Spanish teacher- the last time you took a language might have been in high school.
( and for some of us, that was a long, long, time ago)

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...

Melissa writes:
"Reporting back from the RHS PTSA meeting last night, our principal,
Brian Vance, said there have been no discussions, formal or informal, on RHS becoming the "international" high school. He could not speak to any discussions of other high schools. He said he wasn't even sure what that would mean to be an "international" high school"

Brian Vance must not have been at Roosevelt very long because there certainly were many, many discussions about Roosevelt becoming the international high school. They just didn't go beyond initial meetings because Roosevelt was so uninterested. That's not necessarily bad -- the first writer was right -- RHS just has too much going on.

But there was no international high school for first JSIS graduates to go to, so they ended up at RHS this fall anyway.

When the students reached Roosevelt it was primarily parents who tried very hard to work out suitable classes for their kids (many meetings were held!). This failed mostly because RHS refused to group the immersion students into one class (so they could study together at their level), and because of the inflexibility of the world language teachers at RHS (the language curriculum at RHS is unsuitable for the immersion kids, but they refused to change).

I think an "international high school" is one that offers language classes that focus on communication over wrote performance, and probably offers options for heritage/native speakers. An international high school should probably also have it's eye on international studies as part of the social studies curriculum, or international literature classes.

I've heard the rumor about opening Lincoln as an international high school before. Do you think there's really any chance of this? Isn't Seattle over-high-schooled already? Or is there a shortage of seats in central Seattle (Garfield/Ballard/RHS areas)?

Dorothy said...

Brian hasn't been at Roosevelt very long. I do not know when the first discussions Isabel would have occurred. I have been around long enough to remember when Hamilton was given (from the district, no discussion) the unfunded mandate to become the international middle school when the first immersion kids were in about third grade.

Isabel uses the word "refuses" several times. As someone who has worked in a k-12 school and someone who has been around the block, I look at that and wonder what really happened. RHS is a large and complex place. Any such modifications to the schedule to accommodate yet another small group could have lots of ramifications throughout the school. Was it "refuses" or was it "unworkable?"

This is the first year that immersion kids are at RHS and there are only a handful. I think Brian said something like ten. Is that accurate? Can an overcrowded school really add a separate class to accommodate 10 students? Are the 10 students at the same level? Do they still want to be part of the same small group? Would keeping them together for language mean that some of them could not pursue other interests as well due to scheduling conflicts? Would it mean that other students studying Spanish would have overcrowded classes or problems getting into a class?

How do they handle this at Hamilton? How many classes are taught immersion style? Do the JSIS graduates remain fairly isolated or distinct at Hamilton? I've heard that WASL subjects are all in English. Is that true? What does immersion mean in middle school. For that matter, what is taught immersion in elementary? I was under the impression it was a lot, including math and science, but I don't know if that's accurate.

emeraldkity said...

Or is there a shortage of seats in central Seattle (Garfield/Ballard/RHS areas)?

ya think?
maybe since they were sending students whose closest high school was Ballard to Cleveland?

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...

Dorothy,

I'm not sure calling Seattle's international education program an "unfunded mandate" is very productive. Insults never are. Many people in Seattle are VERY supportive of international education. We believe kids should be encouraged to become world citizens and be fluent in more than one language.

I think you could interchange the word "refuses" with "unworkable". Same result -- no substantive international ed at RHS.

The point of making room for the current 10-ish language immersion kids at RHS (or anywhere) is to establish a the immersion/2nd language pathway through high school. It's not about just serving these 10 kids -- it's about serving immersion students graduating from JSIS, Beacon Hill, Concord, etc. If not at RHS, then where?

Contact me offline if you would like to know more about the structure of the language immersion program, K-8. See the HIMS website for my email address. I'm on the PTSA board there.

Dorothy said...

Isabel. I did not call the international school system an unfunded mandate. I said that Hamilton was given an unfunded mandate to become the international school for the rising JSIS kids. I am not the first to use that term in this particular situation. Why is it an insult? Who am I insulting?


There are many articles and OpEds like the
following
from the PI, 4/25/2001

"Hamilton Middle School was supposed to get a buzz and a boost in popularity when it was anointed as the first international middle school in Seattle Public Schools.

But a year after the announcement, some parents and teachers fear the school isn't getting the time or money it needs to make the school international in almost anything besides name. [...]
Hamilton staff members say they were handed down a mandate without any planning time or resources to make such a transformational change, and that they can't simply copy the Stanford school because middle schools are so different from elementary schools.

Hamilton staff members have made some alterations this year, such as organizing school assignments, field trips and visitors around other countries and cultures. They've juggled money to hire a Spanish teacher and an international school coordinator, but even those positions are at risk after this year.

And they're questioning whether they'll have to cut valuable elective programs, such as band or art..."

me on 28th Ave SW said...

I, for one, am not surprised at all about the announcement about Denny becoming an "International School". The district "tipped their cards" well over a year ago in one of the architects renderings of Denny that was presented at one of the many community meetings. You can see the same image midway down the poster found at this site http://bex.seattleschools.org/docs/chief_sealth/DennySealth_poster.pdf with "Denny International Middle School" prominatedly displayed over the entrance to the new Denny.
My prediction is that the district WILL built an elementary school on the site Denny currently occupies, and that this school will become an "International School" as well that will feed into Denny/Sealth. Having such a large population of native-Spanish speaking families will probably benefit the immersion program at these schools, at least in Spanish (my son goes to Sealth, so I know).

me on 28th Ave SW said...

the link didn't link...to see the poster go to the SPS website, click on schools, then West Seattle South, then the BEX link (on the left, the Denny/Sealth link from there, and finally the "View Denny/Sealth Kiosk Poster" over on the right side. Not that any of it really matters, I just wish the district would be honest in their master plan....it sure seems that the architects know what it is.