How well are ISSN schools achieving their mission of producing college ready, globally competent students? Albeit limited in their focus on relatively low-level skills, state tests are nevertheless a useful baseline assessment of students’ progress. The Consortium for Policy Research in Education has analyzed data on ISSN schools from 2004-2007, comparing results from these schools to schools with similar demographic profiles within the same school district. Across grade levels and core subject areas (English, math, science, social studies/ economics), ISSN schools achieved at higher levels in the vast majority of such comparisons. For example, the Academy of International Studies in Charlotte, NC, which opened in 2004, has outpaced the district average and comparison school scores on virtually every End of Course exam given over the past three years. After four years, 100% of the senior class is on track to graduate on time in 2008. Ninth and tenth grade students at the Denver Center for International Studies (DCIS), which opened in 2006, scored at least 58% higher than the district average on the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) reading, writing and math tests and DCIS’s 10th grade CSAP science scores were double the district average. And Figure 1 shows impressive results by the two ISSN schools in Los Angeles on the California high school exit examination.
While there is certainly room for improvement – and each school in on a journey -- ISSN schools are achieving encouraging results on the assessments that matter in the era of No Child Left Behind. We will continue to track progress on these “coin-of-the-realm” assessments, but we are also working in partnership with Stanford University and Envisions Schools to develop a digitally based portfolio assessment system that will provide a better gauge of whether students’ work is truly up to college standards and meets the guidelines of the ISSN graduate profile. Our hope is to develop an authentic assessment system that, as it should, drives the nature and quality of instruction by asking students to show what they know through real-world applications of knowledge.
Our intent in the coming years is to expand the International Studies Schools Network of new, small schools and small learning communities in the regions where we are working now and new ones. Our goal, as well, is to use lessons learned from the ISSN and other internationally focused schools to provide opportunities for existing schools to transform practice.
The term globalization has taken on many meanings, but the fact that we now live in an interconnected and interdependent world is indisputable. Our mission must be that every young person is fully prepared for the challenges and opportunities within the new global village. The International Studies Schools Network is designed to do just that.
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