What would be the benefits of expanding the immersion program to high schools?
As background information, there are currently seven elementary immersion programs in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). These seven programs are hosted at the following schools:
- Chinese Immersion: College Gardens and Potomac Elementary Schools
- French Immersion: Maryvale and Sligo Creek Elementary Schools
- Spanish Immersion: Burnt Mills, Rock Creek Forest, and Rolling Terrace Elementary Schools
Students who participated in an elementary immersion program may continue the immersion experience at one of these middle school Foreign Language Immersion programs—
- Gaithersburg Middle School: French
- Hoover Middle School: Chinese
- Silver Spring International Middle School: French and Spanish
- Westland Middle Schools: Spanish
Immersion students entering high schools automatically articulate into a level 4 course of the language they studied in elementary and middle school. Our level 4 curricula are designed to be taught entirely in the target language. These courses focus on a broad range of thematic and linguistic topics which allow students to continue to experience an immersion-like setting. In our upper level courses, which include International Baccalaureate as well as Advanced Placement Language and Culture courses, students continue to communicate orally and in writing with increased proficiency in a culturally appropriate manner.
Our current middle school immersion programs consist of two courses taught in the target language (Chinese/French/Spanish and Social Studies). Expanding this model to high schools would require not only ensuring stable enrollment, but also recruiting highly qualified teachers certified in two content areas.
By expanding the immersion program to high schools, MCPS would be able to:
- Target the specific linguistic needs of immersion students beyond current upper level course objectives;
- Give immersion students the opportunity to continue to learn content through the target language;
- Ensure that students experience a sustained language immersion program throughout their studies in MCPS; and
- Support students in reaching higher levels of proficiency in the target language.
The following should also be considered:
- Natural attrition of enrollment through elementary and secondary schools and potential impact on teacher staffing;
- Impact that creating singleton courses has on master scheduling;
- Impact of a number of separate preparations per immersion teacher;
- Need to identify social studies courses required for immersion programs (as well as translation of instructional materials into Chinese, French, and Spanish);
- Implement a different model that would not include Social Studies classes taught in the target language, but would allow immersion students to earn college credit in the target language through a partnership with local universities.