Q. Would optional HW mostly be completed by the students from Mandarin speaking families? I am wondering if possibly the challenge questions could be translated in English also, so that all students have a fair chance on tackling these problems? Also, I am told that these challenge questions are math problems. I see no numbers in these challenge problem, as they also are in Mandarin. (so when she asks for help, I cannot even give her a clue as to how to work it out) I hope to attend the Principal’s Tea where the curriculum will be further discussed, however could I ask if any of the math word problems, given to the kids, are in English? I know during my childhood education, I learned to look for key English phrases and words (such as “in all”, “total”, “how many are left”, etc) to help me with the math problems. In my mind, getting the kids used to doing math word problems in English, recognizing key phrases/wording, will help the kids for the future standardized tests, etc. I look forward to hearing from you soon regarding this, thank you so much for your consideration and time!

A. As discussed last year in leadership team, 3-5 grade math will be taught in Chinese but the homework will stay in English so students are exposed to the English technical terms. This helps to make the teachers’ time more efficient so they’re able to focus on the lesson, differentiation, the students, rather than translating the homework. It also allows parents to help their students at home and students to do any additional challenge should they choose to.

Q. How was the model formulated?  For example, where did the 90% come from?  And why not keep 90% until 5th grade?

A. The model was decided after consulting with two consultants who researched the nation’s Chinese dual language programs when the program first started. The decision was made based on best practices and the trend of Chinese dual language programs across the nation at the time of the program establishment.

Q. How is Mandarin proficiency evaluated? What are the assessment tools/tests for Chinese and when are they conducted?  Why wouldn’t we use something like HSK or YCT tests?

A. At the BSD Chinese DL Program, proficiency is evaluated based on a series of ACTFL and CCSS standards and goals. We do not use HSK or YCT as these tests are not aligned with ACTFL and/or CCSS and we do not teach pinyin in the lower grades. Utah had piloted YCT last year and the test did not accurately measure the students’ proficiency as their students were not exposed to pinyin either in the lower grade levels. Reading thus became listening because the teachers had to read out the answers in pinyin. Students take the Chinese common assessment at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year with the middle of the year being optional from teacher to teacher. AAPPL, a standardized language test, is also administered in 3rd and 5th grades.

Q. How is English proficiency evaluated?

A. Through formative and summative assessments in the classroom, STAR, Smarter Balance, and the district’s common assessment.

Q. How is the Math proficiency evaluated?

A. Through formative and summative assessments in the classrooms, STAR, Smarter Balance, and the district’s common assessment, which is performance based.

Q. Can you explain what level of proficiency students is expected of students for Chinese and English by grade?

A. For Chinese–

Grade Level Listening Speaking Reading Writing
K Novice-High Novice-Mid Novice-Mid Novice-Mid
1 Intermediate-Low Novice-High Novice-High Novice-High
2 Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Low
3 Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Mid
4 Intermediate-High Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Mid
5 Intermediate-High Intermediate-High Intermediate-High Intermediate-High

*This is based on the Utah’s 50/50 model. Since JM is on 90/10 for K-2, the proficiency levels are higher for K-2 end-of-the year compared to Utah and other 50/50 immersion programs. Once students reach the Intermediate-Mid level, it takes up to two years to move into the next proficiency level.

Please also refer to the can-do statements on Brightspace for each grade level. The can-do statements apply to both Chinese and English literacy.

Q. As parents, how do we judge if our students are “on track” for Chinese /English?

A. Please refer to the can-do statements and the teachers’ evaluations of your students based on the can-do statements.

Q. If a student is not “on track” for Chinese or English, what school programs are in place to bring the student back on track?  For example, currently we have a Reading club for kids struggling in English, but there isn’t much support when a student is struggling in Chinese.

A. Are you looking for after school programs as support? Having a Chinese reading club is a great idea. We will take this back to the Instructional Leadership Team for discussion and an action plan.

Q. How does the program uphold the principle that 50% of the student body should have true bilingual ability?  Currently the program does not evaluate or prioritize Chinese proficiency during the kindergarten lottery process and often there are students entering in the upper grades who may not have strong Chinese proficiency.

A. Starting in the 2016 enrollment cycle, all applicants indicated as having Mandarin Proficiency will go through a screening at the time of application in order to determine lottery placement.  The screener will consist of a short interview with a staff member.  We will screen for speaking and listening proficiency NOT reading and writing.

Q. What are the metrics to measure the efficacy of the current pedagogy and ensure that the school does not teach to the lowest common denominator?

A. In our teacher evaluation system of the Danielson framework, differentiation is measured and evaluated to ensure that we are serving 100% of our students. Language acquisition is very individualized, so are other skills such as science and math. We recognize this as a district, which is why we use the Danielson framework for everything we do in the classroom and continue to have learning opportunities on how to best serve our students.

Q. Thus far, I have only heard the program aspires to be ACTFL Intermediate Low by 3rd, Intermediate High by 5th grade.  What does this really translate to in terms of reading and writing?  What is a best guess grade equivalence to China or Taiwan at these 3rd and 5th grade benchmarks?

A. Please refer to the reading and writing can-do statements for literacy per grade level on Brightspace. We do not operate by number grades as this is not an accurate system for evaluating language proficiency or literacy skills. One teacher’s 90% for a grade might look very different from another teacher’s 90% on the same work or assessment. Furthermore, what does the number mean? We evaluate based on the students’ skills and what they can do. For more information on what each proficiency level means, please refer to ACTFL standards– https://www.actfl.org/publications/all/world-readiness-standards-learning-languages.

Q. What is the estimated character recognition count by end of each grade?  This info is useful to understand how well a student would be able to read a Chinese book. For example, will a 5th grader finishing the elementary program be able to read “Magic Treehouse” books (i.e. a chapter book without pinyin above the characters) in Chinese?  If not, when?

A. We do not count the amount of characters a student can recognize to determine what a student’s reading and literacy levels are. We have found that students may recognize characters but do not know how to use the characters in context or the meaning of the character.  We would like to focus our  instruction on application rather than rote memorization.  If you would like to support your child’s vocabulary growth at home, feel free to reference the CCCC vocabulary list linked to the Curriculum page on this website.

Q. What should parents expect in terms of English literacy while at Jing Mei?  My impression is K-2 is 100% Chinese literacy while at school.

A. Please see can-do statements for literacy and CCSS per grade level. Jing Mei uses all of these standards as our year-end goals.  Also refer to our DL Model in the About Dual Language section of this website.

Q. Since English is not taught until 3rd grade, what is expected of the parents to do at home to help with English development? Given the students do not have any English Language arts curriculum during K-2, how does the program catch the students up to what they have missed starting in 3rd grade?

A. K-2 students have 120 minutes of English instruction per week (please see our Dual Language Model in the About–>Mandarin Dual Language section); in 2nd grade that time increases to roughly 200 minutes per week.  Parents are not expected to do anything that they are not already doing, which is to monitor students’ daily reading (20 minutes minimum).  Some parents choose to enroll their children in tutorials or hire tutors at home.  If that is within your capacity and works with your family’s afterschool schedule, feel free to do so.  We do not require or endorse any practice.  We have parents reporting that their children picked up literacy skills without any intervention.  There are research that indicate that students will pick up English as long as they are consistently immersed in a literacy program, whether it’s Spanish, English or any other target language.  The literacy skills from one language transfer over easily, as long as students are consistently coming to school.

Q. Is there a plan to eventually employ a full time English teacher in the future who can come in and rotate through the younger grades to teach actual English Language Arts for the allotted time?

A. No, there is no plan for this.  We tried this method in the past and found that the ELD teacher taught in isolation with not much integration with the rest of the curriculum.  Currently our homeroom teachers rotate students, as to not speak English in front of their own students, during ELD time.  They work closely with our ELD facilitator to create English literacy lessons in the Balanced Literacy approach.  We will integrate Social Studies themes with lessons coming out of relevant storybooks.  This type of literacy-based instruction is also being adopted during the Chinese time.

Q. Can you explain some more about the Chinese reading/writing program?  It seems to be non-existent until 3rd grade when they are finally asked to start writing pieces at length.  There are no regular book reports or regular every day Chinese reading required which is needed to help grow the children’s vocabulary.   This is especially a problem since they don’t have regular dictation words on a weekly basis to help with vocab, reading & writing.  When I compare my child’s Chinese education in HK, it seems like Jing Mei is about 1-2 years behind  (My child is in 3rd grade now,  and already knows all the Chinese characters, vocab and pinyin and Chinese typing that she is currently doing now in 3rd grade).

A. Reading and writing are consistent from K-5. In kindergarten when students are maybe just exposed to the language for the first time, we develop their listening and speaking skills according to the language acquisition progression research. By the end of the year, students are able to create short sentences in 100% Chinese. From 1st grade and up, all three modes of writing are practiced—expository, narrative, and opinion. This is required by the district and the State. Programs in the U.S. should not be compared to programs in China or other Chinese speaking countries. The environmental factors, surroundings, and education standards, pedagogy, and methodology are different.

Q. Who is developing the curriculum through middle and high school?  What does the model look like?  How many periods per day will be in Chinese?

A. The curriculum in middle and high schools are district curriculum translated into Chinese so students receive the same learning opportunity as other students in the district. Social studies and Chinese literature will be in 100% Chinese. We are still in the process of determining if an additional course in Chinese will be added.

Q. Where will JM kids be for middle and high school?

A. Students will be going to Tillicum for middle school and high school is TBD.

Q. There has been talk of a Seal of Biliteracy.  Will/when that be implemented and what are the requirements to attain it?

A. This is already in the district. Last year, more than 1400+ of our BSD secondary students received the Seal of Biliteracy. Students must demonstrate that they are biliterate and bilingual in two or more languages. This is determined when students go into higher level courses in secondary schooling.

Q. When would dual language kids take the AP test and what do you think they are capable of scoring?

A. AP tests are administered in high school. The testing process is very individualized and hard to group everyone together to estimate a score. Our goal, however, is to ensure that all of our dual language students are biliterate and bilingual in both the target language and English and we believe they all have the capacity and capability of passing the AP Chinese test.

Q. How is the BSD curriculum incorporated into Chinese?

A. Jing Mei uses BSD curriculum for math, social studies, science, SEL, English, with English modified in K-2. All standards and goals stay the same with the district and State’s goals and standards from K-5.

Q. How does Jing Mei ensure that students graduating Jing Mei are ready for middle school?

A. We know they are ready because we use BSD district curriculum and we base on our practice on standards that are aligned with the district and the State.

Q. Will the kids learn pinyin? In what grade? And how was this decision made?

A. They do, from 3rd grade and up. This is comparable to other programs across the nation.

Q. How will students with 504 and IEPs be supported at Jing Mei?

A. Our teachers are trained in students’ 504s and IEPs and we have a counselor and psychologist on site as part of the support system, similar to all other schools.

Q. One observation I have had is that the 3rd teachers method of teaching seems very similar to an IB curriculum where they have units of inquiry, have all the subjects intersect with each other and have projects.  IB is quite prevalent in Asia from K-12, and I am a big proponent of the method.  I am just wondering if this is something that is being looked at for all grades?

A. All grade levels are using this approach. Our thematic units are project based, thematic, and problem-solving driven, which means that all the subjects are connected with each other and each semester (or trimester) have a problem-solving project that integrates all the skills and content knowledge.

Q. What do the standard-based indexes mean on the report card and what does that tell us about students’ proficiency levels and content knowledge?

A. All grade level standards and goals are set based on ACTFL and CCSS grade level standards and are aligned with the district and State for both content and language learning. When students have demonstrated mastery in the grade level content and proficiency skills and goals, this is equivalent to a 3 on the report card, as it shows that students are on track for the grade level, is prepared for the next grade level, and have met all the standards and skills. This is something to be celebrated! Standards-based grading does not translate to a traditional A,B,C,D, as it focuses on skills that are clear and goal-oriented, rather than A,B,C,D or percentage grading that are very subjective from teacher to teacher. A 4 on the report card means the student has advanced understanding and are beyond the grade level expectation, skills, and goals with distinction. The student demonstrates academically superior skills in both the content and literacy knowledge and skills, shows initiative, and challenges himself or herself. A “4” is difficult to obtain and indicates unusually high achievement. A 2 indicates that the student is approaching the grade level standards and skills, and may need additional support on specific skills. This means that the student has not demonstrated mastery in specific skills that are expected for that grade. A 1 indicates that the student has not shown any understanding of the grade level expected skills and content knowledge based on program, district, and State standards.