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Academic Design

An academically rigorous school with a focus on international international language immersion and diversity.

Language Immersion

Baltimore International Academy West (BIA West) is a replication school of the original BIA (now identified as BIA East), which was Baltimore City's first international language immersion school. In contrast to most other existing international schools, BIA West is a public school that is available to all of Baltimore City's students. Beyond the international emphasis, the philosophy of the BIA West is to use innovative (in Baltimore) yet proven teaching and learning methods to improve student learning and to expand school choice for students in the City of Baltimore.

International Baccalaureate

Baltimore International Academy West (BIA West) is a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme / Middle Years Programmes and pursuing authorization as an IB World School. 

 

IB World Schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to improve the teaching and learning of a diverse and inclusive community of students by delivering challenging, high quality programmes of international education that share a powerful vision.** 

 

*Only schools authorized by the International Baccalaureate can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programmes, visit https://www.ibo.org/ 

 

It is our goal for Baltimore International Academy West to become authorized as an International Baccalaureate Organization “IB World School” because we subscribe to the philosophy of the IBO’s Primary and Middle Years Programmes, as expressed in their “series of desired attributes and traits that characterize students with an international perspective.” 

 

We believe that all students can succeed in learning, and that Baltimore’s children deserve a learning experience that is the equal of the best schools, nationally and internationally; hence, our pursuit of the IB World School authorization.

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Curriculum

Theoretically, the curriculum in language immersion programs is the same as the state and district curriculum. As such, Baltimore International Academy follows the same curriculum as other Baltimore City Schools which in turn is aligned to the Maryland State Curriculum. The difference, however, is in the delivery of the curriculum. At BIA West, students study mathematics, science, social studies , reading and language arts through the medium of French, Mandarin Chinese, or Spanish.

Academic Standards

The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC) and Common Core standards define what students would know and be able to perform at each grade level in reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Baltimore International Academy West conforms to and is working hard to exceed all requirements of the Common Core Standards. Information on these requirements are found in Appendix 3.

Expectations

BIA West has high expectations for student behavior and participation in the life of the school community.  Service learning is incorporated into the educational program at every grade level in order to help students develop skills needed to become caring, involved citizens.

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Language Immersion:

 

Baltimore International Academy West (BIA West) is a replication school of the original BIA (now identified as BIA East), which was Baltimore City's first international language immersion school. In contrast to most other existing international schools, BIA West is a public school that is available to all of Baltimore City's students. Beyond the international emphasis, the philosophy of the BIA West is to use innovative (in Baltimore) yet proven teaching and learning methods to improve student learning and to expand school choice for students in the City of Baltimore.

 

The particular aspect offered by the BIA West is that starting from kindergarten and grade 1, students are immersed in a foreign language and are taught all their academic subjects in that foreign language, with English taught by specialist English Language Arts teachers, beginning in grade 2. Furthermore, in lieu of concentrating on a single foreign language for the immersion experience, BIA West will  offer five different immersion possibilities, to enhance cultural diversity and the school’s international context. These five language options will be offered as the school grows. The school began it first year with French and Spanish Immersion, and its second and third years with Spanish, Chinese, and French Immersion programs.

 

The founders of BIA, East and West, firmly believe, based on existing research that enriching our curriculum with an emphasis on foreign language improves the academic performance of our students. A full professional treatise on the benefits of early second language learning and the benefits of being bilingual is available on the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) web site, in Kathleen M. Marcos’s report “Second Language Learning: Everyone Can Benefit” at http://www.cal.org/earlylang/benefits/marcos.html. Research on local programs in Fairfax, VA showed that students who had participated for five years in immersion scored as well as, or better than, all comparison groups on achievement tests and that they remained high academic achievers throughout their schooling (Thomas, W. P., V. P. Collier, and M. Abbott. 1993, “Academic Achievement Through Japanese, Spanish, or French: The First Two Years of Partial Immersion.” Modern Language Journal 77 (2): 170–180). A case-matched, controlled, longitudinal study completed in 2002 by the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Office of Testing & Accountability demonstrated a “valued-added” component to the academic performance of the students in the French Immersion Programs; that is, after exposure to the programs, students scored better than comparable peers not in the program when matched for grade, gender, race, socio-economic status, and initial test and aptitude scores.

 

International Baccalaureate:

 

Baltimore International Academy West (BIA West) is a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme / Middle Years Programmes and pursuing authorization as an IB World School. 

 

IB World Schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to improve the teaching and learning of a diverse and inclusive community of students by delivering challenging, high quality programmes of international education that share a powerful vision.** 

 

*Only schools authorized by the International Baccalaureate can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programmes, visit https://www.ibo.org/ 

 

It is our goal for Baltimore International Academy West to become authorized as an International Baccalaureate Organization “IB World School” because we subscribe to the philosophy of the IBO’s Primary and Middle Years Programmes, as expressed in their “series of desired attributes and traits that characterize students with an international perspective.” 

 

We believe that all students can succeed in learning, and that Baltimore’s children deserve a learning experience that is the equal of the best schools, nationally and internationally; hence, our pursuit of the IB World School authorization. 

 

2. Academic Standards

 

The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC) and Common Core standards define what students would know and be able to perform at each grade level in reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Baltimore International Academy West conforms to and is working hard to exceed all requirements of the Common Core Standards. Information on these requirements are found in Appendix 3.

 

Curriculum

 

Theoretically, the curriculum in language immersion programs is the same as the state and district curriculum. As such, Baltimore International Academy follows the same curriculum as other Baltimore City Schools which in turn is aligned to the Maryland State Curriculum. The difference, however, is in the delivery of the curriculum. At BIA West, students study mathematics, science, social studies , reading and language arts through the medium of French, Mandarin Chinese, or Spanish. As they acquired skills in the score subjects, students learn to understand, read, speak and write the foreign language as well as English. In Kindergarten and First grade students learn all their core subjects entirely in their target language. Formal English Language Arts Instruction begins in the second grade . Beginning second grade students receive a period of Reading Language Arts instruction per day.

 

Full Immersion (all core subjects taught through immersion) programs are most effective when they start at school entry (in pre-school, kindergarten or grade 1). Beyond the early grades, the gap in knowledge of the immersion language is too great for students to be able to integrate into the program if they have no comparable knowledge of the language. Thus, only students in the Elementary levels are in full immersion classes. Middle School Grades are currently in Partial Immersion, having only 2 subjects taught through Spanish Immersion, and the rest are taught in English. This will continue until the current elementary students reach middle school; at that point, they will continue to be fully immersed in their target languages in all subjects, except resources (art, music, PE, computers)

 

D. Assessment / Measuring Student Progress

 

Assessment is the heart of teaching and learning. Our assessments are used to inform students, teachers, parents and guardians about where a student is succeeding and about what needs strengthening. On-going assessments serve as a feedback system to guide teachers in planning lessons and in individualizing instruction. In our classrooms, assessments are (a) timely (given while learning is in progress), (b) focused on the current learning tasks, and (c) specific about improvement needs.

 

We administer the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) in grades 3-8, as required. The MCAP results from the first year are  used as our baselines from which to judge the performance and progress of the school. We compare the current year’s scores with scores from preceding years to show the academic progress of the school, including information regarding each of the required subgroups. We also conduct a longitudinal examination of academic achievement for students individually, so that we can establish rates of academic improvement for each student while attending BIA West. We compare the rates of academic improvement of students in BIA West against results for students in both the City of Baltimore and in the State of Maryland.

 

Additional Assessments:

 

Classroom assessments may include standard-based unit tests, class observations, quizzes, demonstrations, portfolios, work products, essays, and oral language proficiency.

 

Independently run national tests: BIA West encourages all of its students to participate in various national language tests, such as the American Association of Teachers of French national French exam, “Le Grand Concours.” The performance of BIA West students as a group is compared to those of other state and national schools’ students who participated in the same tests.

 

Report Cards are issued four times each year. Opportunities for parent conferences are scheduled for each quarter, and may be arranged at other times should the need arise. As a part of these conferences, standardized test results are released to parents and discussed.

 

Expectations

 

Baltimore International Academy West welcomes its families and community into the school and supports families in their efforts to be involved in their children’s education. There are unlimited opportunities for parents to serve as volunteers in classrooms, with clubs or sports teams, in the PTO, as classroom representatives/parent coordinators, on committees, or other activities. In May of each year, BIA West conducts a family satisfaction survey, the data from which will be used to modify, enhance or support programs.

 

Students at the BIA West wear uniforms. This is for not only the usual reasons that school uniforms are supported but also to identify the different language strands within the school and to promote a sense of school pride and community. BIA West’s uniform policy is in accordance with Baltimore City Public School System’s policy on the student dress code.

 

BIA West has high expectations for student behavior and participation in the life of the school community.  Service learning is incorporated into the educational program at every grade level in order to help students develop skills needed to become caring, involved citizens. BIA West has a discipline policy that is compatible with the policies of the Baltimore City Public School System. This policy is in writing and is distributed to all families and students to sign and return, to affirm that they were informed of the policies. All disciplinary actions are compatible with IEP requirements. The discipline policy is part of a complete parent handbook. 

 

The BIA West creates a culture of high expectations of our students’ families and similarly, we want them to hold the school’s professional staff to the highest expectations. Expectations will be written and agreed upon by signature. Language immersion requires a long-term commitment to a school, and families need to be fully aware of that commitment when they first enroll a child in the school. BIA also expects its parents to provide a minimum commitment of their time in support of their children’s and the school’s activities each year.