District 97 Families,
We are so excited to be working with your student(s) this year to support their Spanish language acquisition and cultural competency in our class. Language acquisition is a lengthy process with important milestones that students progress through during their time in our elementary school program (FLES). Our mission is to provide students with “comprehensible input,” which simply means using Spanish in a way that is understandable and contextualized so that students internalize words and grammatical patterns over time. Through comprehensible input, we are able to use Spanish about 95% of the time during class.
Due to the way students acquire language, we want to share with you some changes to the upcoming report card. Students in kindergarten through second grade will no longer receive a grade for Interpretive and Presentational Communication, and third-graders will no longer receive a grade for Interpretive, Presentational, or Interpersonal Communication, as was the practice in the past. Students acquiring a language begin in the pre-production stage, also known as the “silent period.” Students need many hours of comprehensible input before they begin the early production stage, during which students may produce single words. Even during this stage, students still need verbal and written input almost exclusively. Our belief is that forcing students to produce language in order to assign them a grade is not in keeping with the natural language acquisition process. Furthermore, students naturally acquire languages at different speeds and in stops and spurts. The process is not linear, and grading students based on a common metric is not appropriate, nor equitable.
Students will continue to receive a grade for their participation and the behaviors that support learning (Effort). Although families may still see Interpretive, Presentational, and Interpersonal Communication listed on the report card, there will be no grade assigned. Like any reflective teacher, department and district, we have spent time reviewing our grading policy and felt these changes were appropriate and best for our students and their developmental level.
The report card is one valuable data point to communicate to families how students are progressing. Our older students in fourth and fifth grade with a greater capacity for productive language skills will continue receiving a grade for multiple modes of communication, in keeping with their developmental level.
We appreciate the support our families provide to the Spanish program in the elementary schools in Oak Park, and look forward to a fantastic year collaborating and working together to support our students’ language learning. Please contact the FLES teacher at your child’s respective school if you have questions regarding the report card changes.