Middle School Changes: World Language Cuts?

Have any of you heard about significant Middle School changes for next year? It seems among other changes World Language will be cut from current levels. Right now, 6th grade gets Spanish every other day (40 minute periods) and 7th and 8th grade gets Spanish every day (50 minute periods). The proposed cuts would reduce Spanish to every other day ( 50 minute periods) for all grades.

What was said at the Middle School Orientation meeting a few weeks ago? Details are hard to come by.

This is of course in addition to cutting the anemic Elementary Spanish program completely.

Some IB school indeed!

Didn't we just get a district survey in the Fall/Winter asking what languages were preferred?

The details of this have not been communicated with the teachers yet but I reached out to a Middle School Spanish teacher and it was confirmed to me that cuts are being proposed. The district seems to be trying to keep this as quiet as last year's Music cuts

If they want greater bang for their foreign language buck they should be pushing foreign language ed younger not older.

I would really like to hear from anyone who was at the orientation as to what they said. I have heard some conflicting accounts and I am trying to understand what is being proposed.

If this is true, it makes no sense. This would mean scaling back further than pre-IB days.

Changes to the middle school world language curriculum were not presented at the meeting last Wednesday night at Jefferson.

What was presented at middle school orientation?

Mod, if you look at the district website, the Power Point presentation and handouts from the talk are there. If you have a current middle schooler, I think the only change is Period 8, "Whatever I Need," which could be either extra academic support or enrichment activities, as decided by the teachers.

Yes Chalmers I saw the documents which only cover 6th grade and do not discuss changes to 7th or 8th grade. The reductions I was told about refer to 7th and possibly 8th grade.

The talk was for parents of rising 6th graders. As SGW says, nothing was said about changes to Spanish for 7th and 8th grade.

Well, it has been confirmed to me that they are definitely looking at reducing 7th grade Language to every other day , It is unclear whether it is being considered for 8th as well.
If we do this we will have less World language instructional time then all of our peer middle schools.

I know we have had difficuly recruiting and hiring Spanish teachers for the past two years. We have been told there is a shortage of qualified teachers but given this competitive market why would any WL teacher want to come to our district when our commitment to WL instruction is so tenuous. We take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back with a new plan every year.

@mod is there any documentation of this change on any school website? I just want to make absolutely sure I understand what's going on.

Here is a petition: https://www.change.org/p/maplewood-south-orange-board-of-education-keep-world-languages-in-the-elementary-curriculum?recruiter=9573893&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

@alee, as of now there is no documentation that I can find. Details have been very hard to come by . There is nothing on the website and details do not seem to have been shared with teachers although they were aware of the proposed cuts . I am trying to get details and specifics. There are many changes being planned for the middle school schedule including the WIN period,adding an advisory period, going back to 50 minute PE periods and it is all being worked on now. This is the best kept secret in the district.

If shortage of Spanish teachers is a problem, why don't they offer a French track at the middle school level? I imagine it would be hard to find teachers of Mandarin. French is spoken in many parts of the world, including importantly, Africa.

Village Green article indicates total instructional time unchanged (but scheduled differently) in the proposal:


Im sorry haven't had enough cofee to do the math but if students are purportedly receiving 2 years of instruction over their 3 years of middle school now with 6th being every other day 4o minute periods and 7th and 8th being now given every day in 50 minute periods . And the new plan cuts instruction in 7th and 8th grade to every other day instruction , how are we at the same instructional levels? The only plus in instruction is an extra 10 minutes per class for 6th - over. 2 week period that is an extra 50 minutes of instruction. 7th and 8th grade instruction is reduced by 250 minutes of instruction over a 2 week period.

Reality check please - how are we not looking at a reduction in instructional time?

I find the district response in the Village Green Article quite misleading.

When asked to confirm, the district’s Director of Strategic Communications Suzanne Turner replied, “The schedule we are developing for next year continues to provide students with the equivalent of 2 years of Spanish instruction during grades 6-8 to prepare them to take Spanish 2 at Columbia High School when they enter 9th grade.”

We currently have 2 years of every day spanish in grades 7 and 8. We currently have one year of Spanish every other day for grade 6.

If we offer less days of instruction for 2 grades or even 1 grade how is that the same?

What exactly is 2 years of instruction? How many minutes in total. This doesn't add up.

Someone is parsing.

I hope VillageGreen will be following up and I hope the district will be providing more details.

Good points, @mod. Does this also mean that we are tiptoeing away from IB? I'm pretty sure IB requires a pretty high commitment to world language instruction.

@dg64 , that's what I was thinking too. Well the IB open house at MMS has been cancelled.

This is an excerpt from NJ World Language standard . Pg. 1 Intent and Spiriit of the World Language Standard.

The number of years spent studying a language and the frequency of instruction impact the level of proficiency acquired in the language. This principle has historically been supported by research in the United States and abroad. However, as part of a three-year grant project (2005-08), the New Jersey Department of Education collected data from New Jersey schools that further support these research findings. Data from the federally funded project that assessed the language proficiency of 60,000 8th-grade students present compelling evidence for the need to develop programs that offer all students the opportunity to meet the state-designated proficiency level of Novice-High. The data show that programs offering a minimum of 540 hours of articulated instruction in classes that meet at least three times a week throughout the academic year produce a majority of students who can speak at the Novice-High proficiency level or higher. Consequently, the establishment and/or maintenance of quality, well- articulated language programs at the elementary and middle-school levels, as required by New Jersey Administrative Code, is critical for building the capacity of high school students to achieve the Novice-High level of language proficiency required for graduation.

Pay particular attention to the last paragraph.

Where do we stand against that minimum standard?

The details of world language at middle schools are confirmed:  6 and 7th grade will get 1 semester of language,  it will be treated like a related art.  That is a reduction from full year to half year for 7th grade.  8th grade will remain a full year .  

Will students be prepared for Spanish 2 in HS?  Just because you say they can take it doesn't mean they will be prepared .

So our teachers are to deliver the same curriculum in 2 years that they were previously delivering in 2.5 years.

This will be on the agenda at April 27 BOE meeting.

Do you all think that having only one semester of Spanish for 6th grade and 7th Grade is acceptable?

Are you satisfied with our students having the least amount of World Language offered in Middle School (and elementary too) of all our peer neighbor schools?

After cutting 1/2 year of instruction for our students will they really be prepared for Spanish 2 at the HS as district maintains?

Are we really teaching 21st century skills if we handicap our students abilities to reach even limited fluency in a second language? 

This is an equity and excellence issue because while our most affluent students can supplement this lack with expensive language immersion experiences  our students of more modest means cannot.

This will be discussed at April 27 Board Meeting.  Please make your voices heard and demand to know the educational rational  for reducing language at the middle schools.  Unlike the decision to cut our anemic elementary school program , it is not just budget that is driving this decision.  This deserves a full airing and our district needs to hear from parents, students and teachers about these changes.

Board meeting tonight .  Speak up and demand a thorough airing of this decision.  

I've already got a babysitter lined up--see you there Mod!

The Village Green Summary of BOE meeting April 27 with regard to Middle School Changes


7th grade Spanish to be cut by half next year to make way for an Intervention/Enrichment period.  The real purpose and priority for the decision is to make room for academic intervention in Math and ELA and the Enrichment is just a by-product of what do you do with everyone else not receiving intervention? 

Why can't more  Spanish be a choice for students?

The article mentions plans to integrate the Intervention period or WIN period into 8th grade for the 2016-17 year.  What will we lose when it is integrated?  More language or something else?

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