Focus school: International School Ho Chi Minh City - American Academy

Submitted by: Julie Facine
November 2020
Photos courtesy of ISHCMC-AA

image of people reading books
EAL department left to right: Lizz Eckenrode, Susan Scott, Joel Krasso, Phil Anderson, Julie Facine


International School Ho Chi Minh City - American Academy (ISHCMC-AA) is an American international secondary school with around 430 students and 40 teachers. Approximately 95% of our students are Vietnamese. Our teachers primarily come from the United States; while others come from the countries of Canada, South Africa, India, Colombia, Ireland, Scotland, and England. Students here span a wide range of English proficiency from beginning to native-like proficiency.

five female students at a table looking at papers together

Why did you decide to join the WIDA global network?

We decided to join the WIDA global network because of a need for English language proficiency assessments (the WIDA Screener for admissions and WIDA MODEL for measuring growth) as well as language standards for addressing academic language growth in content area classes. Two male students looking at something together.

How has working with WIDA impacted teaching and learning at your school?

Using the WIDA tests and standards has helped us to track growth in student language development over time, place students of need into language intensive courses, and implement language standards. For example, we have developed a “dot” system based on what students can do in different language domains. We’ve created an adapted spreadsheet of the Can Do Descriptors Student Name Charts for teachers to differentiate student grouping based on language abilities. Students may receive one, two, or three dot in-class activities or assessments depending on their abilities. These groups are fluid and based on what students can do in particular language domains and their language progress. This helps to ensure that all students have access to the content standards and are being academically challenged while also supported appropriately by language abilities.

We are especially grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Jon Nordmeyer a few years ago. Jon spent several days at our school, getting to know our students, teachers, and the EAL team. Jon provided great insights and suggestions to help us improve language instruction at our school. Particularly impactful was the switch we made to move away from EAL teachers supporting content teachers by department to supporting teachers by grade level. This has allowed us to deepen our connection with students, create lasting improvements to course curricula, and provide ongoing EAL professional development to our grade level teams.

a teacher at a table talking with two students

School Website

ISHCMC American Academy logo
two students in classroom reading

Become a WIDA Member School

Join the WIDA International School Consortium, a global network of schools using WIDA resources and assessments to support multilingual learners.