Spring 2021 Middle School World Language Program Information
Spring 2021 Middle School World Language Program Briefing
Counselors, Administrators, and Site Facilitators
[Note: The 2020-2021 middle school offerings have substantially changed, including the offerings and enrollment philosophy. Please take five minutes to review this page carefully BEFORE enrolling.]
MTDA has offered the Multi-Language Sampler program, or MLS, since 2012. At that time, we labeled the program a “pilot,” and intended to provide the service as resources were available.
Over the last three years, it has become apparent to our team that the MLS program was no longer meeting students’ needs. As a data-driven organization, we have noticed some patterns that suggested that we go in another direction. First, student feedback from the course was increasingly critical. Struggling students (or those less ready for online learning) felt the course was too fast-paced and often weren’t provided extra support to succeed. Advanced students interested in language instruction wanted more than a workshop format (7 weeks) and felt the course was too slow-paced. This was echoed in facilitator feedback, along with parent surveys and direct contact from parents, who often reported confusion about why their student was in the course in the first place.
Starting Fall 2020 and continuing into Spring 2021, MTDA will have two offerings available for middle school and junior high school students to take language classes. These offerings are intended to be used by schools for individual student enrollments (not whole group or grade) that are vetted by local schools for appropriate inclusion in the program. This is in line with the MTDA Governing Board policy that our program is intended to supplement, not supplant, local school programs.
Option One: Middle School Language
For the 2020-2021 school year, MTDA will offer Middle School Spanish, a one-semester Spanish course intended for older middle school students. The course format will be the same semester-based format as our high school original credit program. However, the course is designed around 7th- and 8th-grade students. We have pulled in one of our most experienced MTDA Spanish teachers, who has extensive experience working with middle school populations, to lead the program.
Students should be individually appraised utilizing our Online Learning Readiness tools and walked through our entrance counseling form before enrollment to make sure they understand what is required of them. We also ask schools to work with their local IT support to ensure that students have appropriate access before the start of the course.
With our finite resources, we can offer 50 seats for in the fall, and 50 seats in the spring on a first-come, first-served basis. Students should take the course for one-semester only, and once completed, should not be re-enrolled in the same course.
We will carefully monitor data regarding this program, with our full intent that we offer additional languages in future years, budget and teacher-availability dependent.
To give schools time to prepare, enrollment for these courses opens on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at 8 am. Again, this is first-come, first-served; however, we want to stress the importance that students should be carefully vetted for enrollment, and this program is not intended to be a whole class-implementation model. The course is available for enrollment under the ‘Spring 2021 Original Credit” term in GeniusSIS (“Spanish / Middle School (One Semester)”). If the course no longer appears there, it means the course is full. Spanish I is NOT the same course (see below).
Option Two: High School Language Courses
As has been in the past, schools may choose to allow middle school and junior high school students to take courses out of the high school catalog. There are limitations (for example, AP classes are available to high school students only), but this option remains open to you for the upcoming school year.
For schools new to this concept, we have some guidance on using the program in this way. First, these are not middle school classes; they are high school classes taught to a high school audience. We sometimes encounter middle school students that are ready for the content but not the independence that is afforded to online learners and often requires. The student will be held to the high school standards. Second, MTDA courses are not available for enrichment only, so the course must be recorded on the student’s local transcript. Third, you need to consider/determine if the course counts for “high school credit,” based on local policy. There may be implications for offering pre-high school students credit that you’ll need to discuss locally.
Like our middle school program, utilizing the high school courses requires careful evaluation of the student’s readiness. Students should be individually appraised using our Online Learning Readiness tools and walked through our entrance counseling form before enrollment to make sure they understand what is required of them. We also ask schools to work with their local IT support to make sure that students have appropriate access before the start of the course.
Note for Spring 2021… Spring semester high school language courses are NOT an appropriate enrollment for first-time language learners. If your student is new to the language, you should wait until the Fall semester.
If you have any questions about this or would like to discuss the program’s implementation, please contact us to schedule a consultation.