Mandarin Immersion Magnet School
Mandarin Immersion Magnet School
Serves students in grades Pre-K–8
The Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School (MCLIMS) received its authorization by a unanimous vote of the Board of Education on December 8, 2011. The school’s primary champion was Trustee Harvin Moore, who had visited an elementary school with a similar model, Barnard Elementary, in Superintendent Terry Grier’s former San Diego school district.
Originally slated to be housed near Houston Heights, it was later moved to the campus of the former Gordon Elementary, which had served as an overflow school for elementary schools in the Gulfton area. In the Spring of 2012, principal Bryan Bordelon researched various immersion models and visited several Mandarin immersion schools throughout the United States. The model that was selected as a starting point to best fit students’ needs was the Utah Chinese Dual Immersion Model.
Mandarin Immersion Magnet School (MIMS), formally known as Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School (MCLIMS), is the first PreK–8 public school in Texas that is entirely dedicated to Mandarin immersion. MIMS welcomed its first group of immersion students from prekindergarten through grade 2 at the Bellaire campus in August 2012 and later moved into a $32 million campus in the Galleria area, with 545 students from prekindergarten to grade 6. The school will add one grade level at a time as the 6th graders move up to grade 8. When this is complete, the school will have about 900 students in grades PreK–8. As a 100% magnet school, all students must submit an application, and student selection is completed through a lottery process held at the district magnet office. This results in a diverse representation of ethnic groups on campus: African American (18%), Asian (35%), Caucasian (19%), Hispanic (17%), and Two Plus Races (11%). MIMS was recognized as the most diverse school in Texas in the 2015–2016 school year.
Following a 50% Mandarin and 50% English Dual Language Immersion Model, each student in grades PK–5 has two state-certified teachers: one a native Mandarin-speaking teacher and one an English-speaking teacher. 50% of instruction takes place in the Mandarin classroom and includes Mandarin language arts, mathematics, and science. 50% of instruction takes place in the English classroom and includes English language arts, social studies, and math/science vocabulary review in English. A similar program is provided in grades 6–8, except that science is taught in English and enrichments in Mandarin are added. In grades 6–8, students have five core content teachers (math, science, language arts, social studies, and Chinese), one enrichment class, and one period that alternates daily between Physical Education and personalized learning time that makes use of teacher-led tutorials and digital curriculum tools. During the 2016–2017 transitional year, 5th graders follow the grades 6–8 schedule.
The vision of MIMS is to immerse students in a culture-rich environment that allows them to become bicultural and biliterate citizens in a global economy. The statewide evaluation has shown excellent student academic performance in English in grades 3–5. The school was awarded an A+ by the non-profit organization Children at Risk and ranked the #20 school (out of 857) in the Greater Houston Area (and #10 in HISD). This shows growth from being ranked #477 in 2014 and #251 (A-) in 2015.
Three measures were used to determine the rankings:
- Student Achievement Index – Performance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Reading and Math tests
- Campus Performance Index – An adjustment of achievement indicators to eliminate bias toward campuses with low percentages of economically disadvantaged students
- Growth Index – Improvement over time on standardized test scores in Reading, English, and Math
Students’ Mandarin skills are also closely monitored using a variety of testing tools, including the Children’s Chinese Competency Certification (CCCC), ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL), and local assessments. The goal is for students to be able to meet AP Chinese expectations by 8th grade. In addition to academic classes and achievement, character education is carefully planned and delivered through a daily morning assembly. Integration of Chengyu 成语 (Chinese proverbs) in instruction and the assemblies gives students a deeper understanding of Chinese culture.
MIMS has two sister schools in China: an elementary school affiliated with Renmin University of China, and The First Primary School of GaoAn Road. Campus visits and classroom interaction have provided valuable opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in school to real-life situations.
MIMS hosts annual magnet tours for perspective parents. To learn more about these tours and the program, visit the school website or contact Melissa Nichols, Magnet Coordinator, by email or at 713-295-5276.
The following opportunities also promote student engagement and learning:
Suzuki Violin Program: Students have the opportunity to take small-group violin lessons using the Suzuki method. In groups of three, students and parents meet with a Suzuki violin instructor once per week.
Technology: Starting from PreK, students develop proficiency in using digital learning and creation tools. Students are taught computer programming and, in grades 5 and 6, have begun using a Maker Studio to further their engineering and design thinking skills.
Business Education: Parents host an annual Kids’ Marketplace, in which students develop and run a small business. We also have a business class in which students in grades 5 and 6 learn about fundamental business and financial concepts, including entrepreneurship and international business.
Character Education: The school’s values are woven throughout the curriculum and building, which includes signs like these in the hallways. (See program photos for examples of these in the school.)
Mr. ChaoLin Chang, Principal