CHARTER SCHOOLS


What is a Charter School?
Charter Schools are autonomous public schools, which receive the same funding from the same sources as other public schools. Charter schools are not private schools. Charter schools do not charge tuition. Charter schools are operated by teachers, parents and community groups, and are able to make site based decisions concerning their curriculum, structure and emphasis. Charter schools are non-sectarian, non religious and do not discriminate in their admissions policies.

Who can enroll in a Charter School?
Any student in the Kansas City Missouri School District may attend Académie Lafayette. Charter Schools are choice schools, which means that parents and students choose which school they would like to attend and are limited only by space availability.

How much does it cost?
As a public school, there is no cost for residents in the Kansas City, Missouri school district.

Are Charter Schools subject to state and federal laws?
A Charter School is subject to all federal and state laws and constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, religion and ancestry. Académie Lafayette has spelled out this nondiscrimination policy in its Charter Application.

What are the advantages of a Charter School?
Charter Schools are operated by teachers, parents and community groups and are able to make site-based decisions concerning their curriculum structure and emphasis. Because they do not have large administrative organizations, charter schools are able to, and can be held accountable, for the achievement of their students.

LANGUAGE IMMERSION

Why should I choose immersion education for my child?
As a parent you want to make the best educational choice for your child. For many of you, this includes the advantages of bilingualism. However, the ability to understand and speak more than one language is not the only benefit of immersion education. Research shows that students gain additional cognitive, academic and employment benefits.

How does immersion differ from other types of language instruction?
In traditional second language instruction, the target language is the subject of instruction. Immersion programs use the target language for instruction and as a means of communication. This authentic communication allows students to learn a second language in a similar manner to the way that they have learned the first.

A November 2007 article in The Language Educator states “the younger an individual is when exposed to a new language, the greater the probability for success in acquiring proficiency as well as native pronunciation.”

Do children in immersion have to be above-average academically in order to succeed?
No special skills are required. Children with all types of academic ability can succeed in an immersion program, not just above-average students. Studies show that students with lower academic abilities do as well in immersion as they do in English programs. Every student has the same opportunity and the potential to become bilingual.

Other than learning a second language, what does my child gain from an Immersion program?

•Mental Flexibility - students with two languages can focus more on meaning and pick out the most relevant points from information provided. They are better able to communicate their thoughts and express themselves and can answer open-ended questions more easily than those with only one language.
•Life-long learning - learning a second language in elementary school enhances imagination and critical thinking while improving analytic and interpretive capacities. Generally, children who speak more than one language are more flexible and open to learning.
•Increased sensitivity to others; heightened awareness, receptivity and appreciation of language - acquisition of a second language makes your child more sensitive to communication and better able to understand and respond to the needs of others. Their exposure to another culture makes them respectful of differences and allows them to communicate effectively with people of diverse backgrounds.
•Improved cognitive abilities - according to the Modern Language Association, children who learn a second language score significantly higher on verbal and nonverbal IQ tests. “Research has shown that math and verbal SAT scores climb higher with each additional year of foreign language study.”
Académie Lafayette students now exceed all state averages on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests despite learning the material in French and being tested in English.

CURRICULUM

Why French? Aren’t other languages more beneficial in today’s world?
French is the second most frequently taught language in the world after English. The International Organization of Francophonie has 51 member states and governments; of these, 28 countries have French as an official language. French is the only language other than English spoken on five continents.

French, along with English, is the official working language of the United Nations, UNESCO, NATO, the International Labor Bureau, the International Olympic Committee, the Universal Postal Union, and the International Red Cross

In a July 2007 job bulletin from the US State Department: 125 required or preferred French, 31 Spanish, 25 a UN language (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), 10 Portuguese, 7 Arabic, 4 Russian, and 2 German.

Do students study the same curriculum as children in other schools?
Yes - Académie Lafayette follows the curriculum guidelines set down by the State of Missouri. Only the language of instruction is different.

Is so much time spent on learning French that the core scholastics are lacking?
In the younger grades, there is very little time spent formally teaching French. Students are taught the same things other schools teach -math, science, music. French is simply a tool used in the learning process.

How many kids are in a class?
Our unique school requires a unique approach and we know that more is not always better! An ideal Kindergarten class has 17-18 students; upper classes do well with no more than 22 students.

How strong is the math?

2010 MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) Scores - Mathematics Grade # of Students receiving Proficient

and Advanced Competencies   

 Missouri Rank including all charter schools
 and Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis public schools
3 51.4% #8 out of 173 schools
4 53.7% #9 out of 173 schools
5 67.3% #4 out of 173 schools
6 85.3% #1 out of 173 schools
7 84.2% #4 out of 173 schools
8 89.3% #1 out of 173 schools

 

The 2010 MAP test results for mathematics showed that Académie Lafayette 6th and 8th graders were the #1 school among not only the 51 charter schools in the state, but the Kansas City, Missouri school district and the St. Louis school district, as well.

Will my child be able to learn math and science in French?
Yes. Once children have developed French vocabulary and fluency, and he/she is comfortable communicating in French, they can learn any subject in French.

What if my child is gifted?  Is there an excelled curriculum for them?
Académie Lafayette does not have a Gifted & Talented program. However, inclusive instruction (also called Differentiation) is embedded in the classrooms. Differentiation aims at meeting the children where they are and taking them as far as they can go.

Is English taught at all?
Kindergarten and 1st grade students receive 30 minutes of English instruction each day. Starting in 2nd grade, students receive 50 minutes each day.

Will their English language skills be delayed?
Yes and no. Your child will be spending a huge chunk of their time reading, hearing, talking and writing in French. This may initially cause them to be delayed when compared with their peers in other schools. But don’t worry, they will eventually catch up, and most often surpass their peers by the 2nd or 3rd grade.

You can help by reading to your child at home on a regular basis. Reading - like shooting baskets and playing the piano - is a skill. Like other skills, it gets better with practice. Researchers have found that children who spend at least 30 minutes a day reading for fun - whether they read books, newspapers, or magazines - develop the skills to be better readers at school.

How is technology integrated into the curriculum?
Starting in Kindergarten, students attend computer class once a week. Middle school students have a mobile lab that consists of 26 laptops that can be checked out by any middle school class. This gives students a chance to use computers in other areas of instruction and makes them available outside formal computer class. Our computer lab is equipped with a Smart Board, which projects the desktop onto a screen allowing younger students to interact directly with the lesson.

What happens after the 8th grade?
Although there is not a French immersion language program for students after the eighth grade, they will be prepared for any academic program available and can participate in other public schools, other charter schools and private schools.

Académie Lafayette graduates are now successfully attending area high schools such as Lincoln College Prep, The Barstow School, Rockhurst, Notre Dame de Sion, Hogan Preparatory Academy, St. Teresa’s Academy, Bishop Meige, Southwest Charter and University Academy. Many enter upper level French and other academic classes in their freshman year. In their junior and senior years, many are enrolled in college level French classes.

When does school start? And let out each day?
Académie Lafayette opens at 7:30 each morning. A breakfast program is provided for students starting at 7:30 and running until school starts at 8:20. After school, the YMCA operates an extended day program from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. During this time, students benefit from various enrichment activities such as computers, reading and educational board games.

What about transportation?
Bus transportation is provided for children living more than one mile from the school. Transportation is available for regular day and extended day programs.

PARENT INVOLVEMENT

Help! I don’t know French!
You’re not alone. Most of our parents don’t speak French and their children continue to do just fine. One of the best ways to help your child is to read to them - in English. Early language development will help them learn English and French. And since they are immersed in French at school, reading to them in English is a perfect way to help your child develop his/her English skills. Other ways you can help:

•Be supportive and enthusiastic. Research shows that students whose parents have positive attitudes toward French do better in immersion programs.
•Provide lots of opportunities for your child to learn English. Skills learned in one language are transferred to the other so read to your child in English, encourage your child to write in English, and encourage English-language word games like crossword puzzles, word searches and Scrabble.
•Make French a part of your child’s life by providing opportunities for your child to use French outside of the classroom: borrow or buy French books and videos, watch French TV with your child, expose your child to French-language events and activities.
What can I expect the first few days to be like?
If you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country, without knowing the language, you may begin to understand what your child will be experiencing. What’s going on? What am I supposed to do? How do I ask a question? On the first day of school, the teacher may greet them, ask them to hang up their coats, sit in their seats and draw a picture - all in French. For some students this will be frustrating. They want to do the right thing, but they aren’t sure what the right thing is. Others may simply tune-out and do their own thing. Either way, it will be an adjustment for the whole family. Your child may: act-out at home; go to bed earlier, or later, than normal; or revert to some younger behaviors, such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting. All of this is perfectly normal and part of the adjustment process. If you’re concerned, please talk with your teacher.

How long will this transition phase last?
This will vary depending on your individual child. On average, students will adjust within a few weeks. If you are concerned, or if your student is taking longer, please speak with your teacher or the administrative staff.  French Immersion is an option for your family. And it really is a family commitment. Parents play a vital role in helping students academically and emotionally during this phase.

How do you prepare students for the challenges of middle school?
As students prepare for the world today, it is important for them to maintain a tone of decency and respect for themselves and others. The faculty and staff of Académie Lafayette Middle School endorse the following Life Skills as a model for student development: responsibility, integrity, initiative, caring, problem solving, flexibility, common sense, friendship, cooperation, effort, curiosity, patience, perseverance, organization and a sense of humor. Parental involvement in supporting these life skills in everyday life will be an asset to your child’s experience at school.

How do I get more information?
For more information on Academie Lafayette, to inquire about applications or to volunteer to assist in this exciting educational project, you may:

•Attend a board meeting
•E-mail Academie Lafayette at info.lafayette@gmail.com
•Write to 6903 Oak Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64131
•Call the school at (816) 361-7735