I am a parent of a child who just finished his fifth grade year at the Beacon Hill International School. After reading The Times’ article, “Seattle school under review for big jump in state test results” [Local News, Aug. 27], I wanted to express concerns over what I feel were gaps in the story.
In 2009, Beacon Hill International School became the second language immersion program at a public elementary school in Seattle. As a parent, I’ve seen this program have a direct and very positive effect on my child’s learning experience.
I expect the school’s commitment to help students develop fluency in a second language may have had a significant and positive impact on their test scores. (Certainly, their immersion experience has impacted students’ academic performance and growth in many other areas.)
The 2014 fifth grade class at the school is the first class to complete the school’s immersion program. It would make sense, then, that if the program was successful students’ test scores would be higher than the scores of the previous year’s class.
Southeast Seattle, and Beacon Hill in particular, is a community of mixed incomes and incredible ethnic diversity and this makes for an amazing cultural landscape. It also creates a unique set of challenges for educators who need to work across languages and cultures, and accommodate families with a range of resources.
From my perspective the school has found a pathway to success through a well-taught immersion experience, and I’m not at all surprised to see the success of such a program reflected in test scores.
I would encourage The Times to dig deeper into the benefits immersion programs can create, and to take a closer look at the incredible work of the educators involved with making the school a success, especially as the district considers adding more immersion programs throughout the city.
Josh Chaitin, Seattle