Q&A from (and after) Feb. 4 meeting at Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion

Q: You are recommending moving to grades 6 through 8 at middle school. Did you consider a junior high model of grades 7 through 9?

A: Most metro area school districts use a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade configuration. This is based on students’ academic, social and developmental needs, as well as the support students get from being with the same staff for three years in middle school.

A 7-9 school was reviewed in facility planning discussions. There are some reasons to avoid this configuration. Credits and grades earned in 9th grade are reported on high school transcripts. It is critical 9th graders understand their learning and performance needs to be at the high school level and not at a junior high level. Moving 9th graders out of Eden Prairie High School would leave that school underused and create operational inefficiencies there. A 7-9 middle school would increase the existing curriculum planning inefficiencies. Currently, 6th grade teachers are not in the same building as 7th- and 8th-grade teachers, which makes middle level collaboration somewhat difficult. The 7-9 grade configuration would make it difficult for 9th grade teachers to have discussions with their high school colleagues.

Q: How would 6th graders who came from EHSI be organized in teams - and what size will 6th grade teams be?

A:  Sixth-grade students from EHSI would be included on one team together and take four core classes in Spanish, which is similar to the current 6th grade program. We would not remove EHSI students from this 6th grade team (unless an individual family made that request). The teams for 6th grade in 2021-22 will be developed after 6th grade course registration in 2021.  

Q: How does the full immersion experience at EHSI compare with the Spanish language experience 6th graders would have at Central Middle School?

A: The immersion experience at CMS will be similar to EHSI and will provide more than other area school districts’ 6th grade immersion courses:

Eden Prairie Schools will continue to provide four Spanish immersion classes in 6th grade: math, science, social studies and language.

The addition of 6th grade to CMS would strengthen the overall middle school Spanish program and result in a team of immersion teachers at CMS. The 7th-8th grade experience would continue to be a dual literacy program at CMS, with Language & Culture and Social Studies courses taught in Spanish.

Q: Would any Central Middle School teachers be native Spanish speakers, with English as their second language?

A:  The hiring process for Spanish immersion includes a preference individuals who are highly-proficient speakers. A staffing process will be developed with teacher union leadership and teacher representatives if the May 14 referendum is successful. This staffing process is a collaboration with the Meet & Confer committee. The Meet & Confer committee consists of teacher representatives from all sites as well as administrative reps.

Q: How many 6th grade classes at Central Middle School would be in Spanish for EHSI students?

A: Four: math, science, social studies and language, which is similar to the current program.

Q: What would 6th grade class sizes be at Central Middle School?

A: Class size targets are recommended by administration to the school board and approved annually.  Our current class size target at grade six is 30. This has been the target for the past eight years.

Q: What would a successful referendum outcome mean for 6th grade teachers currently at EHSI?

A:  A staffing process will be developed with teacher union leadership and teacher representatives if the May 14 referendum is successful. The process will include an opportunity for teachers to request a transfer to Grade 6 at Central Middle School. This staffing process will be developed in collaboration with the Meet & Confer committee.

Q: How would EHSI students transition socially and get to know other students at Central Middle School?

A: Students come to Central Middle School from six different elementary schools. EHSI students will transition and meet others the same as all the other students. If the referendum is successful, CMS administration will make it a priority to ensure successful transitions for the fall of 2021, as they currently do for all incoming 7th graders.  Orientation and open house events will occur in advance of the transition to give kids the opportunity to become familiar with CMS.  In addition, by way of advisory, exploratory, music and lunch periods, EHSI students would interact with students from all other elementary buildings.  

Q: Are there other school districts who have transitioned immersion students from elementary to middle school that we can learn from?

A: Minnetonka, St. Louis Park, Robbinsdale and Eastern Carver County Schools have K-5 Spanish immersion schools and an option in middle school to take a few classes taught in Spanish.

Q: Will moving 6th graders to CMS allow ESHI to grow in size/classroom sections?

A: At this time, EHSI will maintain its current size.