Principal Gabe Costa cites a trio of key factors – the “three legged-stool,” as he calls it — that earned the Spanish Immersion School a final grade of A on the 2018 Ohio Department of Education report card. “We have outstanding teacher and staff instruction, a high level of student focus and an exceptional level of parent involvement,” Costa said.
Spanish Immersion achieved an A by earning 4.703 points out of a possible 5 that measured overall academic proficiency, closing the achievement gap among student subgroups and student growth based on past performance. The 4.703 overall points ranked Spanish Immersion 65th among 3,344 Ohio schools at all levels (elementary and secondary), according to ODE data.
Spanish Immersion students exceeded the proficiency standard in each academic category at every grade level. Eleven students had perfect scores on state proficiency tests, nine in math and two in science.
“The process involved in learning a second language actually helps in other academic areas — math, for example, by stimulating thinking processes,” Costa said. “Our students come to school ready to learn and our parents are very generous with their time and support.”
For example, he said, parents have supplemented “our excellent teachers’ work” by organizing and staffing the school’s math literacy nights and by contributing funds and labor to complete projects such as the school’s outdoor garden and playground.
Children in kindergarten through second grade are “immersed” in Spanish, meaning their classroom instruction is in Spanish. “Parents know that from the start,” Costa said. “While adults might have doubts about their ability to learn a second language, kindergarten students don’t come in thinking it will be difficult. Parents know that we need them to read to their children in English and otherwise help to develop their English language arts skills at home.”
In third grade instruction is about 70 percent Spanish and 30 percent English, Costa said, noting that all state proficiency tests in third grade and beyond are in English.
Spanish Immersion opened as a free public school in 2008 with a kindergarten class of 11, Jody Nash as principal and two teachers from Spain who spoke both Spanish and English. An additional grade was added in each succeeding year until the school now has 251 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The school started at Raemelton but moved to the former Brinkerhoff school building in 2010. Costa, hired as a third-grade teacher, succeeded the retiring Nash as principal in 2015. Spanish Immersion initiated a middle school program by adding seventh grade in 2017-18 and eighth grade this year. There are 16 middle school students but that number is expected to increase substantially next year due to the 30 students now in sixth grade.
“Development of our middle school is still a process but it is going well,” Costa said. “Those students have their own curriculum, lockers and a separate lunch schedule.”
Recognized by Spain as an International Spanish Academy, Spanish Immersion School was designated as an Ohio School of Promise in 2014 and 2015, a National Title I Distinguished School in 2016 and an Ohio High Performing School of Honor in 2017. In 2016 the Ohio School Boards Association recognized Spanish Immersion School as an outstanding program during OSBA’s Student Achievement Fair.
In the photo above, teacher Laura Mora Munoz leads a science lesson for middle school students at the Spanish Immersion School as Principal Gabe Costa looks on.
Source, Photo: Mansfield City Schools