A letter from Rhonda – August 2012

Welcome (back) SLLIS families!

It was great to see so many of you at our Back to School night at the Science Center August 5th.  Today about 800 students joined us for their second day of school year and another 50+ students are on the wait-list for this year.  The most tangible sign of our school model success is our students’ immersion language acquisition.  During their first two days back from summer break, our 1st-4th graders have easily slipped back into their immersion languages and new students are already singing routine songs, using polite greetings/leavings and looking forward to their next lessons.  This school year The French and Spanish Schools are serving grades K-4, The Chinese School opened with grades K & 1, and we welcomed one intern from Japan, Kana Kusumoto, who will support English class in TSS and work on Japanese outreach lessons with us.  At the end of the month our remaining international interns will arrive to support learning in French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Summer Construction

As you know, throughout the summer we had two significant construction projects and we’re happy to note that all classes were able to start with their scheduled improvements in place.  Our summer work relied on several crews working down to the wire, but I would would like to recognize the significant input from SLLIS parents to orchestrate the bulk of our expansion and renovation: Kate Fenlon (TFS), Brent Crittenden (TFS), Chris Rohlfing (TFS) and Sue Herzberg (TSS).  We literally could not have started the school year without you.

Standardized testing

As you know, last spring our first group of 44 3rd grade students took the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) in Communication Arts and Math.  Today, parents of these students received their individualized score reports.  Based on studies of English language achievement in language immersion schools in North America, we anticipate that our average students will perform below grade level on our state assessments until 5th grade when they will perform at grade level.  Our first year’s test results reflected this research trend and we look forward to assessing student growth scores in the coming years to track performance to grade level by 5th grade and to surpass grade level averages by 6th grade.  To view our score trends (and compare them to the state, district schools and other Missouri charter schools) visit the Missouri Comprehensive Data System (http://mcds.dese.mo.gov).  This database allows readers to compare total population and the performance of our subgroups.  Here you can also find an FAQ sheet about standardized assessments and immersion schools.  We have a very clear path to achieve our international standards, long-term critical thinking success and academic achievement in English and the immersion language for all of our students.  This school year teacher teams will continue to work on differentiated supports in French/Spanish and English for all students based on MAP test scores and our internal assessment the NWEA-MAP (it’s confusing, I know!).  We have significant work ahead of us to reach the performance level of our model immersion school in Kansas City, but we are confident that we will reach our goals by 5th grade.

Board of Directors Meetings

In August we do not hold a regular meeting of our Board of Directors.  Next week the Board will participate in a strategic planning session to further define and align our long-term goals and the necessary steps to reach them academically, operationally and financially.  The next Board of Directors meeting will be Wednesday, September 26th from 6pm-8pm at 4011 Papin.  At that meeting the Board will review our baseline student demographic data for 2012-13, final attrition data from 2011-12, and academic data from MAP and NWEA-MAP.  Board meetings are an excellent opportunity to witness inquiry in action.  I hope to see you at one of our meetings this year.

Best,
Rhonda

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