In accordance with IB philosophy, Las Colinas Elementary supports the inclusion of all students in the Primary Years Program. This includes but is not limited to:
- Safeguarding the interests of all students;
- Actively seeking to remove barriers to learning and participation;
- Providing an appropriate education that allows students to achieve their personal potential;
- Embodying an environment that is welcoming, healthy and child-friendly. (From Learning Diversity in the International Baccalaureate programmes: Special educational needs within the International Baccalaureate programmes, 2010)
The mission of Las Colinas Elementary is for students to be lifelong learners who communicate with care and respect with inquiry and action in their community. All students are considered IB students and participate in the PYP. All students are expected to engage with the IB Philosophy and learn and demonstrate Learner Profile Attributes, global-mindedness, and service in action. Students are assessed to the individual appropriate level. Students are not excluded from IB because of a disability. There are no financial issues with supporting special needs in the IB program. We are an open admissions school.
Students with disabilities and IB
Special education needs refers to candidates with individual learning, physical, sensory, behavioral or social needs who have the intellectual ability to meet all curriculum and assessment requirements of IB, and who require accommodations to demonstrate their level of achievement. This may include students eligible for special education services requiring specially designed instruction, as well as students served through Section 504. Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD has a Child Find obligation to locate, evaluate, and identify students’ birth through 21 years of age with a disability, eligible for special education services. In the State of Texas, an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Committee reviews evaluation data, determines eligibility for special education services, and puts an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place. The IEP includes supplemental aids and services and appropriate accommodations for students to help them succeed in
the general curriculum. These accommodations are required for all undertakings, including the IB Primary Years Programme, which the student participates in. Students with the following special needs participate in IB PYP: Speech and Language Impairment, Learning Disability, Auditory Impairment, Visual Impairment, Autism, Orthopedic Impairment, Emotional Disturbance, and Other Health Impairment.
Las Colinas Elementary ensures that students with disabilities are educated to the maximum extent appropriate with their non-disabled peers. The goal is to provide access to the general curriculum and educate students with disabilities in a general education classroom with supplemental aids and services to the maximum extent appropriate for each individual student’s needs. Some principles of providing differentiated instruction include:
- Valuing and affirming the language, culture and identity of each student
- Knowing and using students’ prior knowledge to build new understandings
- Scaffolding instruction with small groups, use of mother tongue, or visual aids
- Extending the learning through interaction with rich materials in their cognitive tasks
At the start of each school year, Las Colinas Elementary staff participates in professional development activities on special education, inclusive practices, and the use of accommodations for students with disabilities.
Special Needs Policy Review
This policy is evaluated every two years by the Head of Schools, IB Coordinator, Director of Advanced Academics, Special Education Department Chair, and Special Education teachers. It is the responsibility of the IB Coordinator to ensure the success of the special education needs policy review.
At Las Colinas Elementary, we recognize that teaching, learning and assessment are fundamentally interdependent.
- Assessment focuses on the quality of student learning during the process of inquiry and on the products resulting from that learning.
- Assessment is designed to improve student learning and helps to measure effectiveness of teaching strategies and materials.
- Assessment is anchored in authentic tasks.
- Assessment utilizes a balanced range of strategies for formative and summative tasks.
- Timely, specific and supportive feedback is central to all learning and teaching.
- Students should have wide variety of assessment opportunities such as written tasks, oral presentations, field work, practical work, exhibitions, lab reports, performances, examinations, research papers, etc.
- Students should have an active role in peer and self-assessment.
- Reflection is an essential process within assessment and indicates understanding over time.
II. Assessment Practices
Assessment should be formative (for learning) to assist students in building understanding, skills and knowledge. Through a variety of methods, ongoing and regular assessment will be used during the teaching and learning process to inform teacher and students about how the is developing. Formative assessment and teaching are directly linked and provide feedback that is responsive to student needs and informs teaching practice.
Assessment should also be summative (of learning) to assess what students understand, know and are able to do. Summative assessment happens at the end of the teaching and learning process or experience but is planned at the beginning of the unit. The assessment is designed so that students can demonstrate their learning in authentic contexts and apply it in new ways.
Strategies of Assessment
Observation: Observation is a direct means for learning about students’ knowledge and skills and to allow teachers to plan way for meeting their academic needs. Observations about Knowledge and the Approaches to Learning Skills can be made during:
- Independent work time
- Peer interactions
- Reading time/writing time
- Large or small group discussion
Student Led Conferences: When conducting student led conferences, the student is in charge of the academic conference with parents. The teacher facilitates discussion as needed, and allows students to be active participants in demonstrating their understanding of various concepts as they share their academic work. During the conference, students share their “portfolios” with their family.
Portfolios: Portfolios are collections of student work representing their academic levels of achievement. Every student in grades K-5 has an individual portfolio, which is a binder, and has a sample of student work from each unit of inquiry. Student reflection about the strengths and weaknesses of each piece, as well as additional student reflections from the year are part of the portfolio. This tool supports the student’s role in constructing understanding while teachers are promoting ongoing understanding.
Tools for Assessment
Assessment information can be qualitative or quantitative and may be gathered from rubrics, district or state mandated tests, anecdotal records, behavior folders, projects, etc.
Recording and Reporting Assessment in the IB:
Information about students’ progress can be recorded and reported to parents through any of the following means: student report cards from current and previous years (including the PYP insertion), photographs, portfolio pieces, reading records, progress reports, and scores from district and state assessments.
III. Additional requirements
Local school policy requires that, per progress reporting period, students be given three formative assessments which count for 25% of the student’s grade and one summative assessment which counts for 75% of the student’s grade. If a student scores below a 70 on the summative assessment, then the student must attend tutorials in order to repeat the summative task. Parents are notified in writing of their student’s progress. Students at Las Colinas take all state and locally mandated tests. This includes common unit assessments in
core subjects as provided by the local school district. The State of Texas Assessment Of Academic Readiness (STAAR) occurs annually in grades 3-5 in reading, writing, math, science.
Students who have Special Needs and/or have Language needs will be assessed to the most appropriate level of criteria, taking into consideration their Individualized Education Plan and their level of academic English. Students shall be assessed in multiple ways as appropriate to document their achievement of local standards and IB expectations.
Review of Assessment Policy
This policy shall be reviewed by all stakeholders each year to ensure continued alignment with IB and local district expectations. Newly hired teachers shall be trained about required assessment practices throughout the first semester of their teaching contract. Parents and students shall be made aware of this policy through normal communication channels at the beginning of each semester.
Purpose of a Language Policy
The IB recognizes that language is central to learning as it develops critical thinking, intercultural awareness and global citizenship (From Language and Learning in IB programmes, 2014). Language study, including English, modern languages and mother tongue languages, reinforces cultural identity, enhances personal growth and promotes effective communication. The partnership views all teachers as teachers of language, all parents as essential contributors to the language learning process and all students as language learners. Language instruction in the Primary Years Programme values students’ multiple learning styles and individual growth.
The purpose of creating a language policy is to ensure that all students can embrace the opportunities and resources to develop the language skills needed for life-long learning. Our aim is to embrace, encourage and support the development of all languages spoken in our school community.
School Language Policy
For our ELL students and our native English speakers, we recognize that the students’ mother tongue enhances the value and effectiveness of the learning experiences within the taught curriculum. The first of the five essential elements in the PYP written curriculum is knowledge. All students come to school with prior knowledge of language. We develop this prior knowledge into a deeper understanding of what language is and increase the skills needed to continually communicate in an ever changing global society.
Practices of the Language Policy
Adapted from PYP “Language Scope and Sequence”, 2009
Oral Language: listening and speaking
Oral communication enables students to construct meaning through the process of articulating thoughts in a variety of ways. Oral communication encompasses all aspects of listening and speaking that allow students to relate to those around them. In the area of oral communication, students will learn to:
- Improve fluency and accuracy when speaking to share thoughts and feelings
- Ask and answer questions, retell information, persuade others, and contribute to discussions in a range of formal and informal situations and in large or small groups
- Recognize the perspective of the audience leads to more effective and appropriate communication
- Identify key ideas in spoken language and synthesize them to create their own understanding.
- Communicate orally in more than one language.
Written Language: reading and writing
Reading is constructing meaning from text by making inferences and interpretations. The process of reading is interactive and involves the reader’s purpose for reading, the reader’s prior knowledge and the text itself. Writing allows us to develop, organize and communicate thoughts and information in a visible way. In the area of written language, the students will learn to:
- Read and write for enjoyment, instruction and information using a variety of strategies
- Recognize and appreciate a variety of perspectives about how people think, feel and act as we synthesize information and reflect on what they know.
- Understand and apply a variety of literary techniques (including structure, mechanics, syntax, and voice) into their own written communication, in order to help others understand and appreciate it.
Visual language: viewing and presenting
Viewing and presenting means interpreting or constructing visuals and multimedia presentations in a variety of situations and for a wide range of purposes and audiences. They allow students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs. Visual images engage viewers while giving instant access to information so that learners can begin to interpret the data in useful ways. In the area of visual communication, student will learn to:
- Understand, critically analyze and communicate information and ideas through a variety of visual media,
- Select the most suitable form of visual presentation to express ideas and images
- Understand that interpreting visual texts influences our judgement about the intent of the message
- Recognize techniques in visual texts that allow us to interpret presentations and create our own visual effects.
Las Colinas Elementary complies with the national and state requirements for ELL students. Upon entrance into the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, all students complete a Home Language Survey (HLS) to determine the mother tongue. In response to the results of the HLS, students complete a language assessment to determine the level of proficiency in the mother tongue. A Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC) classifies each student according to the language in which the student possesses primary proficiency. If test results indicate the student needs assistance in development of the host school language, the student has the opportunity to participate in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. The Language Proficiency Assessment Committee (LPAC) regularly reviews the decision to change a student’s educational language placement. Annually, all ELL students are assessed with the TELPAS (Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment Scales) to ensure growth in listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Finally, since most ELL students are taking regular courses, most teachers have their state certification in English as a Second Language requirements.
The ESL program is an intensive immersion program consisting of instruction in English from teachers trained in understanding and supporting students with language differences. The ESL program considers the students’ learning experiences and shall incorporate the cultural aspects of the students’ background.
Limited English Proficient (LEP) students participate fully with English-speaking students in regular classes provided in all subjects including the arts and physical education. Part of the ESL teacher’s role is to be an advocate for the student in the classroom and in the community. ESL teachers invite active inquiry in their classroom while supporting language acquisition. In addition, they monitor students’ progress in regular classrooms, collaborate with classroom teachers to create meaningful learning engagements, assist in test modifications, and stay in contact with parents. Teachers assigned to ESL programs must obtain appropriate certification by the state as well as maintain yearly requirements for district mandated staff development. At Las Colinas
Elementary, ELL students receive an additional 30 minutes per day of instruction in English vocabulary development and continued practice in reading and writing skills in order to support continuous high academic achievement for these students.
Second Language Instruction
One of the requirements to be an authorized IB World School is that students receive regular instruction in a language other than their native tongue.
At Las Colinas Elementary, all grades K-5 receive 45 minutes of Spanish instruction on a weekly schedule. The purpose of this instruction is not for students to develop mastery of speaking another language, but rather for students to be exposed to other cultural perspectives, using language as a “doorway” to these perspectives. The second language instructor receives students in her room and teaches oral speaking as well as reading as appropriate for the age of the learner.
Language Policy Review
This policy is evaluated every two years by the Head of Schools, IB Coordinator, Director of Advanced Academics, CFB Bil/ESL Director, and ESL and language teachers at the campus. It is the responsibility of the IB Coordinator to ensure the success of the language policy review.