I include this information here to provide the background on the introduction of the FLES program. The decision to cancel it has been tentatively made — though some would say that it was just the first shot fired over our collective bow to get attention — but considering the premise behind its introduction, I hesitate to accept its demise. In my view, nothing that led to this program has changed — except perhaps the Administrative support may have retired or simply faded because of an abundance of expectations.Anyway, when now retired Dr. Folts and Dr. Slobojan were part of the strategic planning process, here’s what the District proclaimed:
From the TE District website: http://tesd.net/fles/program.htm
We believe that learning a foreign language in the elementary school is an essential part of a child’s education and development.
Making Foreign Language A Part of The Strategic Plan
- Tredyffrin/Easttown’s 1996 Strategic Plan emphasized the importance of student proficiency in a foreign language. It stressed the need for graduates to be prepared to live and work in a global context. This was the starting point for the FLES program.
- On both the national and state levels (and the international front), there is an urgent call to improve the foreign language competency of Americans. From the 1983 report A Nation at Risk to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s expected learning outcomes, foreign language study is viewed as an essential component of education.
- Scientific studies indicate that there are sound physiological and psychological reasons to initiate foreign language study with children at an early age.
Cognitive research shows that very young children learn language easily due to the elasticity of the brain.
- In fact, this research states that the learning window, when the peak acquisition of a foreign language occurs, is between birth and ten years of age. Yet, for most students, foreign language is introduced and formally studied when they are twelve years of age or older.
Academic research also supports teaching of a foreign language at the elementary school level.
- These studies indicate that the benefits of early foreign language programs go beyond language acquisition. These benefits include the development of students’ creativity, memory, and listening skills. There is specific research to suggest that the child who learns a foreign language at an early age makes greater progress in the acquisition of English language arts, specifically, in the areas of reading and writing, than the child who has not had experience with a foreign language. Studies also show that students who have studied foreign languages attain higher scores on the Scholastic Achievement Tests (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT), especially in the verbal areas.
Learning a foreign language benefits all children, regardless of academic ability.
- Foreign language study in the elementary school incorporates all of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and uses a multi-sensory approach.
- It sharpens global awareness and exposes children to other cultures and thoughts. The study of foreign language at the elementary level helps prepare students to interact in the global community of the future, thus helping to place our students in a more equitable position with students from other global countries.
- Research also indicates that children studying a foreign language have an improved self concepts and sense of achievement in school.
- The FLES program at T/E strives to incorporate District initiative’s of Self-Directed Learning, Technology, and Differentiated Instruction to benefit students overall learning, cognitive, and personal development.
We believe that students who begin foreign language study throughout their education in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District will develop a higher level of proficiency in both foreign language and English.
- We believe that along with strengthening skills in language acquisition, our students will learn about other cultures and broaden their global awareness.
- We believe that the study of foreign language, beginning at the elementary school level and continuing through high school, will enhance and strengthen our students’ career potential and help broaden their employment opportunities.
- We believe that foreign language instruction at the elementary level will add a significant academic dimension to our students’ educational program.
FLES redux in TESD
I want to formally alter my comments about FLES and the fact that nothing has changed since its introduction except the retirement of Drs. Foot, Slobojan and Folts. In fact, something has changed, and it’s my error not to know it.
Anyway — I spent some time on the PDE website — specifically about Annual Yearly progress for the PSSAs. One thing has seriously changed since FLES was introduced — and that is the testing of elementary aged kids on content knowledge by the State. I had no idea that Pennsylvania has undertaken PSSA testing for SCIENCE in the 4th grade. I don’t know about you, but I think science until 7th grade was rock collections, bug collections, and enviromental knowledge.
TREDYFFRIN-EASTTOWN SD Grade 4
All Students # scored 473
% Advanced 68.7
% Proficient 27.5
% Basic 3.2
% Below Basic 0.6
NICE DESCRIPTION OF A 9-YEAR old…what??? And they get this in Reading, Math and Writing too through their K-4 experience. Again in 5th grade for some subjects, and 8th and 11th grade to evaluate the districts’ Annual Yearly Progress. We better be comfortable with the tests, because we are absolutely going to have to teach to it. Does ANYONE remember anything that age except “Iowa” achievement tests? (and air raids?)
You can go to the state’s website to see the results and the tests that our kids take…HERE
You should also visit the TE District’s website and read about the elementary curriculum. FLES still shows because it has not officially been cancelled, but reading the curricular objectives, and knowing that the state of PA has learning outcomes mandated by testing….I’m glad I have my college degree and my kids are done. I thought high school was stressful…actually — high school IS stressful. Now I guess I’m learning just how much more we have forced downwards to the elementary program. Just my opinion — but it’s clear there is no time for instruction in a foreign language that would result in meaningful learning because there is simply not enough time.
Posted in Commentary, Facts and Figures
Tagged FLES, program cuts, PSSA, TESD, testing