An outside review of the Verona Area School District’s world languages program next month will include a look at student growth in the program and its ability to foster that success.
From Oct. 28-30, three reviewers from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages will identify next steps the district should take to further build its programs, Ann Franke, director of curriculum and instruction, told the Verona Area school board Monday night.
“That is a part of the process, thinking about how we can make this program even stronger – what can it look like, what will it look like in the future,” she said.
The board requested a review of the program last year, as the middle schools prepared to add Chinese to their language options and the district moves toward having language curriculum match at both schools, something the reviewers will be looking closely at, Franke said.
The final report is due to the board in November or December, and it will look at student proficiency levels and whether the lesson plans and assessments are enough help get students to meet program goals. Among the data it will look at is how much high school students have retained from their level 1 courses in Spanish, French and German and historical data from Verona Area International School and Two-Way Immersion program students.
Prior to its visit, the group will look over lesson plans and student assessments and conduct interviews with students, staff and parents about the program.
Franke said administrators have been working with teachers and staff to let them know this isn’t an audit of their teachers, but rather the program itself.
“(It’s) an opportunity for us to see what’s going well with the program and also get some input on some next steps to make it even stronger,” she said.
Lauri Burgos, the district’s director of bilingual programs and instructional equity, said high school staff in the world language department are excited about the upcoming review, “embracing this as an opportunity” to discuss their curriculum with reviewers to find ways to improve.
“We want our teachers to feel good about this process,” she said. “I do understand as a former classroom teacher that when someone comes through, it always feels a little devaluative, even if that’s not the nature of it.”
While some board members said it would be ideal to see students start learning a foreign language right away, with fluency in more than one by the time they graduate, aligning the middle school programs needs to come first.
“Getting the middle schools on par is probably a more immediate step that we could take as a district, and probably a little bit more fathomable in terms of what we could support,” Burgos said. “But I think that would be something to aspire to.”