McPolin considers new dual immersion model
December 9, 2011
The Park City School District is discussing options for the McPolin Elementary School dual immersion program for next year. The school is smaller than the other three elementary schools, according to Park City School Board Member Michael Boyle, who said enrollment numbers make it hard for each dual immersion class to be split 50 percent native-English speakers and 50 percent non-native-English speakers.
Boyle said the school has three dual-immersion sections and it would be easy to split two of those sections 50/50, but then the third section would be mostly non-native-English speakers in one class. McPolin Principal Bob Edmiston said this doesn’t look right, doesn’t feel right and probably isn’t right.
In a school board meeting on Tuesday, Edmiston proposed a Whole School Model, in which students in first through fifth-grades would be in dual immersion. Boyle said the problem with that model is that students coming into the school in third or fourth-grade might not be up to speed in their second language knowledge. Boyle said that if parents moving into the school boundaries didn’t want to send their students to McPolin, the school district would provide transportation to another school.
"We asked Bob to go back to the drawing board and see if there is any way to get to four sections with student to teacher ratios being a little smaller," Boyle said. "He can then come to us with the recommendations and more information regarding the pluses and minuses of going to the Whole School Model."
According to Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy, the school board has made the decision that there will be a dual-language immersion at each elementary school in the district.
"McPolin is a little unique because they are a little bit smaller, so it makes it difficult to look at the same model as the other elementary schools," Timothy said. "I asked Edmiston to research what would be best for the school and then be prepared to share that at the board work session on Jan. 10."
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Dixie Sun Elementary School in the Washington School District in St. George is operating on a Whole School Model dual-immersion program. According to Dixie Sun Principal Dale Porter, students in kindergarten through fifth-grade participate in the dual- immersion program.
"The main advantage is that it pulls the whole school together with the same goals, rather than having two separate programs," Porter said. "It also allows you to incorporate the target language, which would be the second language the students are learning. You can have that language widespread and a part of the greater school environment, in hallways, assemblies, different events, parent events, in P.E., computer class, it can be more of the environment of the school."
"A strand model works well if you have a neighborhood school where some of the parents want to participate in the dual immersion and some don’t. A strand model is having some classes that are dual immersion and some that are not. If you get the majority of the school who wants to do it, there are some advantages to the whole school model," Porter said.
The PCSD will hold a district-wide parent meeting on Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Ecker Hill Middle School auditorium, for parents who are interested in the dual-immersion program. Gregg Roberts, from the Utah State Office of Education, along with school district principals will be available to answer questions. Registration for the dual immersion program for next year will be from Jan. 23 to Feb. 6.
Additional topics discussed at the school board meeting:
The school board voted that Treasure Mountain International School officially be Treasure Mountain Junior High and that Ecker Hill International School officially be Ecker Hill Middle School.
According to Timothy, both schools were a part of the international baccalaureate program, but dropped the program when administration felt the program’s requirements were preventing the school from increasing course rigor.
"It’s not that we didn’t think IB was a good program, we just felt like we were surpassing those standards and that these were slowing us down to progress toward academic success," Timothy said.
Student health and risk prevention surveys
Every other year, the Park City School District participates in the state-wide Student Health And Risk Prevention survey, which according to SHARP Project Director Mary Johnstun, helps the school district measure antisocial tendencies among students. The survey is administered to randomly selected 6th-, 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders.
"We have active parental consent, student participation is voluntary, student and school tests results are anonymous and it takes about 45 minutes to complete," Johnstun said.
In a presentation to the Park City School Board, Johnstun said the SHARP survey showed that the average age when a Park City School District student has his or her first sip of alcohol is 13. The average age when a student first experiments with marijuana is 14, and the average age when a student first tries a cigarette is just shy of 14.
Data collected this year revealed that alcohol use has decreased in the PCSD in all grades since 2009 and the PCSD scores are lower than the national averages. The data also revealed that more students in the PCSD have experimented with marijuana than cigarettes.