Nation’s first publicly-funded Chinese immersion charter school

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In a middle-class, Minneapolis neighborhood is the nation’s first Chinese immersion charter school, which has a goal of pushing its students to near-native bilingualism by 8th grade, reports The New York Times.

Some highlights from the story:

“Yinghua, which means ‘English Chinese,’ [opened] with just 76 students and four teachers in 2006,” and now has 660 students, the newspaper says. “The student-teacher ratio is 10 to one, and 78 percent of the teachers hold advanced degrees, many of them from American universities; three have Ph.D.’s.”

Unlike Utah’s dual-immersion model, Yinghua Academy is a total-immersion school, one of a handful in the country. This means Yinghua teaches all academic subjects in Chinese through fourth grade before moving to a half-English model for grades five to eight. “Our goal is real bilingualism by eighth grade, which is near native,” the school’s director, Luyi Lien told the NY Times.

As one parents puts it, “High expectations are yoked to high results.” The newspaper explains:

“In standardized tests, Yinghua students perform at least as well or better than their public school counterparts, even though English classes begin only at age 7. In Minnesota’s Multiple Measure Rating system, Yinghua has ranked within the top 15 percent of all Minnesota public schools for the past three years. (That includes the Focus Rate ranking, which measures the school’s reduction in the achievement gap between higher and lower socioeconomic groups).”

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