Fayette County Public Schools
Fayette County Public Schools
Located in Lexington, Kentucky, the seventy-plus Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) and academic programs serve more than 40,000 students. The world language offerings vary by school and the concept of feeder patterns guides the placement of languages: Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish are offered in K–12; French and Latin in grades 6–12; and Arabic and German in grades 9–12. As of 2021, half of the elementary schools and all of the secondary schools have a world language program, some of which are traditional (language as content) and others of which are immersion (language learning through other content).
The mission statement for the FCPS world language programs is “For every school to offer a well-articulated World Language program that develops language learners' skills of communication and cultural competence.” Throughout the district, Mandarin is taught as a traditional world language. At the elementary level, minimum time expectations include every child attending Chinese class two times per week (frequency) for a total of 50 minutes (duration), at the middle school and high school levels, classes are expected to meet daily (or every other day if on a A/B block schedule) for a minimum of 45 minutes per class. A district curriculum aligned to ACTFL’s World-Readiness Standards for Learning and the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can Do Statements is available for teachers to adjust to meet their school’s individual foci (i.e. International Baccalaureate, Magnet focus) and design the learning experience through a proficiency-based lens. Curriculum is aligned to the following benchmark levels for Interpersonal Speaking and Interpretive Listening, K–8:
|Level 1||Novice High|
A continued focus on feeder pattern alignment, student learning opportunities, and strong instruction has led to increased enrollment in Chinese courses at the secondary levels, making it the district’s 3rd most studied language (Spanish 1st, French 2nd) and including courses from level I-IV and IB2. As of 2021, 50% of our high schools and 36% or our middle schools offered Chinese language. Expansion and continuation has been supported by a commitment from our district and multiple federal grants. Additionally, the Visiting Teacher Program through the former Confucius Institute at the University of Kentucky has provided an average of 2–3 experienced teachers per year.
Listing of Programs:
- Academy for Leadership at Millcreek Elementary
- Dixie Elementary (Magnet)
- Liberty Elementary
- Veterans Park Elementary
- Crawford Middle School
- Lexington Traditional Middle School
- Southern Middle School
- Tates Creek Middle School (IB)
- Bryan Station High School
- Carter G. Woodson Academy
- Frederick Douglass High School
- Tates Creek High School (IB)
Asia Society Confucius Classroom Network
Since 2010, FCPS has been a member of the Asia Society Confucius Classroom Network. This continued support has provided invaluable opportunities for our teachers and students enhancing instruction, student language growth, and cultural experiences. In December 2011, FCPS was recognized as the Confucius Classroom of the Year.
Professional Learning Community
A K–2 learning community for our teachers of Chinese is an integral component for professional growth. Gathering 3–4 times per year provides teachers the opportunity to experience common training/learning on topics addressing student engagement, lesson design, curriculum enhancement, and comprehensible input. Teachers work collaboratively with feeder patterns to plan learning events that connect middle school teachers and students with their feeder elementary students and high school teachers/students with feeder middle school students. Events range from cultural experiences such as tea tasting, Beijing Opera performances, and fan dance presentations to language practice such as reading stories, conversation buddies, or character writing. Cultural events have served as an avenue for community artisans to share and support local programs.
Confucius Classroom Day Celebration
In October, an annual after school event is held celebrating Confucius Classroom Day. Open to students K–12 and their families, attendees flow between stations experiencing hands-on activities and expanding their cultural understanding. Each station is led by a FCPS teacher or community member and includes experiences such as: chopstick usage, origami, paper cutting, fan dancing, drumming, calligraphy and painting. Multiple culinary options are available for attendees to try something new or savor something familiar. Attendees are given a cultural passport allowing them to collect “stamps” from each station they visit earning a choice of an authentic treat.
Providing a system of support to any new teacher to the FCPS Chinese program is a priority. New teachers are matched with a mentor teacher that has a similar course load (ex. elementary teacher with elementary teacher) and is well versed with the FCPS world language instructional expectations, collaborating with school faculty, and navigating the cultural nuances within the school and community. Additionally, the mentor ensures the new teacher is aware of the resources available within the district and provides a connection to the Mandarin speaking community.
STARTALK Chinese Language Camp
Since 2010, FCPS has been awarded a STARTALK grant funded by the National Security Agency. Designed for students currently studying Chinese from grades K–5, campers attend a free, two-week summer camp providing an immersive engaging environment for extending their language skills. Campers are grouped by age and/or proficiency level and reflect a diverse grouping including a mix of second language learners and heritage/native speakers. The STARTALK curriculum is an extension of learning experienced throughout the school year. Additionally, special classes are offered such as cooking, dancing, crafts, and music. Traditionally, the STARTALK campers experience 50+ hours of learning, exceeding the time allotted throughout the school year.
Seal of Biliteracy
In 2017, FCPS became the first school district in Kentucky to adopt the Seal of Biliteracy. The FCPS Seal recognizes graduating seniors who can demonstrate functional language proficiency in both in English and another world language. As of 2021, roughly 500 students have earned the FCPS Seal of Biliteracy. For our K–12 world language programs, the Seal serves as a goal and encourages students to continue their language learning for real-world usage. Many FCPS students biliterate in English and Chinese have been recognized including heritage/native speakers and traditional learners.
Laura Roché Youngworth
Ed.D., FCPS World Language Specialist, STARTALK Director
K–5 Chinese Teacher at Dixie Magnet Elementary, STARTALK Instructional Lead