Focus School: International School of Beijing

Submitted by: Gina Ballesteros Reyes
Date: February 2021
Photo courtesy of International School of Beijing

school dragon mascot outside the International School of Beijing building, with students lined up to enter school

The International School of Beijing (ISB) is a culturally diverse setting with about 1,600 students representing more than 40 countries. ISB has shown a tradition of educational excellence since 1980 and in 2020, ISB celebrated its 40th anniversary. Over the years, the ISB student population and school programs have continued to evolve and adapt in order to promote the best educational experiences for all students.

ISB embraces a student-centered philosophy where all students benefit from teachers who know them personally and respond to their needs and interests. ISB believes in equitable access to learning for all. ISB recognizes and respects the unique developmental and cultural diversity of our student body. Our partnership between parents and classroom teachers guides students through the developmental learning stages at each grade level, towards their unique social-emotional, linguistic, academic, and physical potential.

For students acquiring English as an additional language, ISB promotes a collaborative approach among homeroom and subject area teachers. ISB supports a sheltered immersion model in which subject teachers work closely with EAL teachers to design and deliver lessons that are scaffolded to support language learning. All multilingual learners are supported in grades Kindergarten to grade 10. Alongside our mainstream program, ISB has a dynamic and growing dual language program. Currently, there are two dual language homerooms in Pre-K to grade 3, and the program continues to expand.

ISB has been using WIDA to assess our language learners’ proficiency since 2015. Typically, we use WIDA Screener for admissions and WIDA MODEL for monitoring. ISB uses the WIDA data alongside other data sources to create unique student language learning profiles (ELPs). WIDA’s data guides EAL teachers to set powerful, reachable goals based on each learner’s strengths and areas for growth. The WIDA summary reports and the can do continuum for the Key Uses of language are essential instruments in the process of creating each profile.

We believe in the importance of communication with all stakeholders, so language learning profiles are purposely shared with parents and teachers in order to engage in meaningful conversations to discuss language development and language learning goals. Profiles are living documents that continually guide our services and delivery processes. Our main goal is to continue using WIDA tools to ongoingly monitor students’ progress towards their language development goals. As we continue to adapt, revise, and improve our current framework, WIDA is central to making data informed decisions.

ISB teachers have participated in several professional learning opportunities with WIDA, including a face-to-face institute and the recent Collaboration Course: Stretching Your Co-teaching. The EAL team at ISB is looking forward to maximizing the use of the new WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition as we develop language skills in tandem with the content area standards. ISB’s sheltered immersion philosophy and our commitment to equity and access for all learners are strengthened and guided by WIDA’s principles and tools.

two women reading a booklet together

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