Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School

Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School

Currently serves students in Grades K–11
Plans to serve students in Grades K–12 beginning in 2016–2017

Program Leaders

Kathleen Wang, Co-founder and Founding Principal
Hsiu-wen Hsieh, Director of Education
Richard Alcorn, Co-founder and Founding Executive Director

Program Description

The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School (PVCICS) is a tuition-free, regional public charter school in Hadley, Massachusetts, that prepares students for academic and personal success through rigorous study in English and Mandarin Chinese. The school's goal is to graduate students with excellent scholarship, high proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and English, and sensitivity to multiple cultures.

PVCICS opened in 2007 as the first Chinese immersion school in Massachusetts and expects to be the first fully articulated K–12 Chinese language and culture immersion public charter school in the United States. The school has grown each year as it adds grades, and in the 2015–2016 school year, there are roughly 440 students in grades K–11. Grade 12 will be added in the 2016–2017 school year. PVCICS is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School that offers an "IB for All" program, where classes follow the IB Diploma Programme curriculum in grades 11 and 12.

As a public charter school, school entrance is decided by public lottery, and students typically enter in Kindergarten, or in grades 6 or 9. Located in western Massachusetts, the schools serves a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse student body from rural, suburban, and urban communities that include the poorest county in Massachusetts. PVCICS is a targeted assistance Title I school.

Educational Program

PVCICS uses a "one-way" immersion model, meaning that most students enter the program in Kindergarten and in grades 6 and 9 with no knowledge of Chinese. Chinese language acquisition occurs naturally by using Chinese as the language of instruction during a portion of the day. This approach is very popular, because it produces high academic outcomes and bilingual and biliterate students.

  • In grades K–1, 75 percent of the daily instruction is in Chinese and 25 percent in English.
  • In grades 2–5, 50 percent of the daily instruction is in Chinese and 50 percent in English.
  • In grades 6–12, 25 percent of the daily instruction is in Chinese and 75 percent in English.

English Language Arts is taught in English by a teacher with native English proficiency. Subjects taught in Chinese are taught by a bilingual Chinese/English teacher with native or near-native proficiency in Chinese. Art, music, health, and physical education are taught in English or Chinese.

PVCICS's curriculum is aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the Common Core State Standards. PVCICS is authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, offering the IB Diploma Programme in grades 11 and 12. Thus, the curriculum in these grades adheres to the rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme requirements in Mandarin, which have a strong focus on advanced proficiency in language and literacy.

PVCICS uses a school-wide, tiered Response to Intervention model to support general education students who are identified as needing academic and non-academic support, special education students, and students learning English as an additional language, in compliance with state and federal guidelines.


PVCICS has specific proficiency targets for each grade level in Chinese reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These targets depend on the number of years the student has studied Chinese and the student’s entry grade. Students are assessed annually using age-appropriate Chinese proficiency assessments, including ELLOPA/SOPA, STAMP 4Se, and STAMP 4S. PVCICS also uses formative and summative assessments throughout the school year.

In addition, student performance is measured annually with state-mandated assessments in grades 3 and higher, as well as with the Stanford 10 standardized assessment of English and Math. These allow school staff to track students' English language acquisition in these core content areas.

Financial Support

PVCICS has received financial and other support from the following organizations and entities:

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Asia Society-Hanban Confucius Classroom
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development
  • United State Department of Education, Foreign Language Assistance Program
  • Taiwan Ministry of Education

Impact on Students, Parents, and Teachers

Participation in the program has had an incredible impact on its students, parents, and teachers and on the local community, as can be seen in the video and articles below.

Video: A Taiwan parenting magazine interviews Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School students in Mandarin Chinese

Florence boy finds practical use for his classroom lessons at Chinese Immersion Charter School
Daily Hampshire Gazette | May 20, 2015

Federal official tours addition at Chinese Immersion school
Daily Hampshire Gazette | August 27, 2015

USDA officials impressed with Chinese Charter school program in Hadley | August 27, 2015

MCAS 2015: The top-performing high schools in Massachusetts
Boston Business Journal | October 15, 2015

Chinese charter school to offer International Baccalaureate Diploma Program | February 11, 2015

Program Contact

Richard Alcorn
Executive Director

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