Submitted by: Janie Turner, Primary EAL
TH School was established in 2016 as an independent co-educational boarding and day school that offers an internationally focused college preparatory education. Blending a holistic English-based international educational experience with a deep appreciation of Vietnamese language and culture.
TH School’s educational program encourages learners to engage with the world as global citizens, value international mindedness, and appreciate diverse points of view. The institution seeks to cultivate bilingualism focusing on English and Vietnamese language acquisition, as well as students’ abilities to work independently and collaboratively.
Across its two campuses, TH School has 625 students enrolled from Pre-KG (age 2) through Grade 12 for the 2019-2020 academic year. TH School currently has more than 65 experienced international educators on staff who are joined by a dedicated team of Vietnamese colleagues.
When the school was first established, a committee of English teachers and administration determined that WIDA, with its strong reputation among international schools, would best serve TH School’s needs for English assessment and differentiation. Our superintendent in particular pushed for WIDA as he had extensive experience using it in Tier 1 international schools and noted its success with tracking students’ progress and creating interventions.
In spring of 2018, TH School began using WIDA Screener in conjunction with WIDA MODEL exam. Screener is used with all new students at the beginning of the academic year to gauge their English abilities. This helps us to determine the levels of EAL support they might need as well as whether that support should take the form of push-in or pull-out. At the end of the academic year, all students are given the WIDA Model exam. We use this information in a variety of ways.
First, it helps us track students’ progress in English throughout the school year, as well as from one year to the next with our continuing students. Having a baseline of students’ English levels can inform teachers about an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as to help them determine groupings in class. We can also use this data to judge the effectiveness of certain programs, such as our phonics program, and to make decisions about which skills we will need to focus on the following year. We even use this data as one of our considerations when dividing students into classes for the next school year.
“I like WIDA because it focuses on what students can do with English across content areas and emphasizes the assets our students bring to the classroom.” Ryan Sova, Grade 4 teacher.
We are currently working towards using this data in our everyday classes and ensuring all teachers are familiar with and using the Can Do Descriptors. Our hope for WIDA in the future is that we can use the data and pedagogical practices to drive our teaching methods.