Skip To ContentSkip To Content
    Information about Changes at Concord
    Posted on 10/18/2017

    October 2, 2017

    School Logo

    Hello Concord International School Families,

    I want to thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Aramaki and Dr. Aoki to share your concerns and advocate for our students.   In response to concerns shared with us about Dual Language, Nutrition and Enrollment, I am providing some additional information in this letter as we continue to refine our Dual Language model and our partnership work with the community.

    First and foremost, I want to assure all of our families that we are not nor have we even considered eliminating the dual language program at Concord International School. This program has been a passion of mine and of the community for over a decade, and the only goal at the school and in the district is to strengthen it. I am happy to share that we have both staff and parents signed up to participate on the Dual Language Committee so that we can continue to discuss and work together to strengthen and support the Dual Language program here at Concord International School.  We will be in contact with those that have signed up for this committee  next week to set a date to meet and meetings will be held on a monthly basis.

     

    Dual Language Changes and the Expansion of Spanish Literacy for All Students

     

    There has been some concern about the change in our dual language model, particularly around the teaching of Spanish literacy skills and the amount of instruction provided in Spanish. The following is a clarification as well as a few shifts we are making in response to feedback.

     

    Spanish Literacy Instruction

    Our goal this year is to provide “concurrent” literacy instruction – where we teach literacy skills in both English and Spanish each year. Furthermore, we will ensure there is explicit, early-learning literacy instruction in Spanish in Kindergarten and 1st grade. This will help meet the needs of all students, so that they have the literacy skills to access more challenging content in the upper grades and through middle and high school. This will be for both English and Spanish speaking students. Starting in second grade through fifth grade, we will continue to teach literacy skills in Spanish, but will teach it in a more interdisciplinary way with social studies and science. Concord English and Spanish teachers will work together as usual to coordinate literacy instruction across both languages to ensure literacy development is happening in both languages in all grades.

     

    Math

    We are reverting back to an earlier model of providing math in Spanish in grades 3 – 5, instead of switching math to English. This will ensure that all students are taught 50% of the day in Spanish in all grades. Grades K-2 are currently receiving math instruction in Spanish. In order to provide students with access to critical math terminology in English, we will intentionally build on the method of “translanguaging” where students learn to shift from one language to the other – similar to what bilingual people do regularly.

     

    Science and Social Studies 

    Science and social studies will be taught in Spanish. This will include explicit instruction in foundational, academic Spanish literacy, particularly in grades 2-5.

     

    The following chart outlines what subjects will be taught in each language.

     

     

    Literacy

    Math

    Science

    Social Studies

    K

    English & Spanish (foundational literacy skills taught in both languages)

    Spanish

    Spanish

    Spanish

    1st

    English & Spanish (foundational literacy skills taught in both languages)

    Spanish

    Spanish

    Spanish

    2nd

    English & Spanish (coordinated, interdisciplinary literacy instruction)

    Spanish

    Spanish

    Spanish

    3rd

    English & Spanish (coordinated, interdisciplinary literacy instruction)

    Spanish

    Spanish

    Spanish

    4th

    English & Spanish (coordinated, interdisciplinary literacy instruction)

    Spanish

    Spanish

    Spanish

    5th

    English & Spanish (coordinated, interdisciplinary literacy instruction)

    Spanish

    Spanish

    Spanish

    K-5th grade- PE and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), Library –English

    Music –Spanish

     

    With these changes in place, we will be meeting our goal of providing 50% of the instructional time in English and 50% of the instructional time in Spanish in all grade-levels for both English and Spanish speaking students. This will also ensure that our students have access to explicit literacy instruction in both languages, starting in kindergarten.

     

    Our Dual Language committee will continue to collaborate with Denny International Middle School staff to provide alignment and a seamless transition to middle school.  An additional element of our partnership with Denny will be the launch of an after school Spanish literacy tutoring program with middle school and high school students returning to Concord to serve as Spanish literacy tutors.

     

    Nutrition – Expansion of Partnerships to Provide More Services for Our Students

     

    There have been some concerns about changes to the Marra Farm partnership. Our goal is to continue our partnership with Marra Farms and to grow and enhance partnerships that support good nutrition and nutrition education for students. Changes that are planned of this year make the very best use of additional partnerships for our students.

     

    Breakfast After the Bell (United Way)

    First, through a program called “Breakfast After the Bell”, the United Way is providing free breakfast for all of our students this year! This includes students that don’t qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch. They are also providing nutrition and health education classes for our families at family evening events.

     

    Breakfast After the Bell will also provide nutrition classes during the school day, including providing two nutritionists (2 full-time AmeriCorps staff). There are two particular benefits to this partnership. First, they are aligning their lessons and curriculum to our state’s Next Generation Science Standards, which is critical for preparing our students for middle and high school science courses. This also allows the instructors to collaborate with the classroom teachers in aligning the lessons to our science curriculum. Second, they are able to provide instruction in Spanish as well as English, which allows us to offer these lessons in our Spanish dual language program!

     

    Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program - USDA

    The USDA fruit and vegetable snack program will continue to provide every student with a fresh vegetable or fruit for snack every day.

     

    Marra Farm

    We will continue to partner with Marra Farm. They will provide students with access to the outdoor farm, garden, and agriculture experience through field trips (aligned with the teachers’ curriculum map and with the resources at Marra Farm).

     

    Solid Ground

    We will continue to partner with Solid Ground, who will provide after school cooking classes for families.

     

    Enrollment & Class Size

     

    Enrollment and class size are always challenging issues that we work through at the school level and in the district, especially given our state’s challenge to fully fund our schools. We are a neighborhood school that enrolls students from the neighborhood which means that our enrollment is impacted by how many students live in the Concord neighborhood. Our enrollment is smaller than in previous years – this is a trend across many south-end schools.

     

    We simply did not have enough students (or staffing) to create a second dual language kindergarten class at Concord this year. In addition, more families than usual requested to be in the traditional program for kindergarten this year.

     

    Our kindergarten class sizes are larger than usual, partly because we have chosen not to create a K/1 split class this year. (The first grades have much smaller class size.) In the past, we have created dual language classes with only 20 students in them from kindergarten. However, this is something that is proving to be unsustainable. By 3rd, 4th and 5th grade, we have to have 26-28 students in each classroom. With only 20 students (or sometimes less) in a class, we then have to create multiple split classes (ex. 4/5 classes), which creates additional challenges for our dual language teachers. To support our kindergarten students and teachers, we will provide additional intervention support staff to help reduce the teacher-to-student ratio.

     

    There is a PTA sponsored meeting on Tuesday, October 3 from 6:00 – 8:30 at the South Park Neighborhood Center. I will be there along with some district staff to help clarify and answer additional questions you might have.

     

    I look forward to our continued work together toward a common goal for Concord International School Students as we work collaboratively to prepare our students to be college and career ready.

    Sincerely, 

    Dr. Norma Zavala