Saturday, January 19, 2013

Claire Lilienthal: Korean Immersion in an LBGT-friendly, Racially Diverse K-8 School

As requested by a reader. This review focuses on the Korean immersion program.

You should consider this school if you're looking for:  Korean immersion, LGBT-supportive administration, strong parent community, K-8 school with separate campus for K-2, early start time

The Facts

Web site: ClaireLilienthal.org
Location: 3950 Sacramento Street (K-2), 3630 Divisadero Street (3-8)
Grades: K–8
School Hours: 7:30-1:15
Before/After-school program: CLASP (K-2), Excel (3-8)
Kindergarten size:  4 classes of 22 students-3 Gen Ed, 1 Korean Immersion
Playground: courtyard, blacktop terrace with garden and play structure
Language: Korean immersion (1 class)

Overview


As our tour entered the courtyard of Claire Lilienthal's K-2 campus, we heard "Gangnam Style" playing softly, background music for the PE class going on in the courtyard.   The PE teacher had chosen a wordless version, fortunately so, because many of her kindergarteners would have understood the lyrics.

Claire Lilienthal offers Korean language immersion in a racially diverse, high-performing K -8 environment with LGBT-friendly administration and strong parent community. The separate K-2 campus offers an easier transition to "big kids school" and a more intimate setting geared to the younger students. What’s not to like?

Well, lukewarm SFUSD support for the Korean immersion, large classroom sizes in the upper grades, and for many of us, 7:30 start time. Is language immersion worth wanting to poke your eyes out at 6AM for the next 9 years?

Korean Immersion Program (KIP): Earlier Biliteracy?

This video created by SFKIEA, a foundation created by CL parents to support KIP, gives a look at the program in action including classroom footage and a teacher interview. It was created to build support for a Korean middle school program, which SFUSD just approved for SY2013-14.


Korean Immersion Program (KIP) at Claire Lilienthal from Hannah Levinson on Vimeo.

The program starts 70% Korean/30% English, then goes to 50%/50% by 5th grade. There is one class per grade from K-3, then a single large 4th/5th grade class. See the KIP Handbook for details. Korean immersion officially goes only to 5th grade, although the PTA has funded some degree of middle school Korean instruction in the past.

Korean uses a phonetic alphabet that's nearly as consistent as Spanish. This means that students may become literate sooner than with Chinese characters, as anyone who's relied on pinyin would attest. It also makes "reading" more accessible to parents, who can learn the alphabet to help their child. Looking at the KIP New Parent Guide, this is supported, perhaps expected.

We did not get to enter a Korean class in action, as we toured the kindergarten classroom while they were at PE. Looking at the room 3 months into the year, the level of literacy expected seemed higher than the equivalent Chinese classrooms I'd seen. Word lists of all kinds were posted all over the room; the students' names were in English and Korean on their desks as well as on their art projects hanging from the ceiling, and there was a collection of children's books in Korean on the shelf.

For what it's worth, if you get into KIP, your child will likely end up with a cohort of high-performing students, as Koreans are one of the two highest performing ethnic groups in SFUSD for grades 2-5. The other is Japanese. The effect of this on the pace of classroom instruction and differentiation is unclear. See “The Numbers” section at the end to see CST scores for Korean students at Claire Lilienthal vs elsewhere in SFUSD.

What's SFUSD’s Commitment to Korean Immersion? (revised 9/2013)

At the time this review was originally written, SFUSD support for Korean immersion had been less robust than for other languages. Scrambling for funding for KIP was a recurring theme in both PTA minutes and SSC minutes. There was no SFUSD funding for 6th-8th grade Korean language pathway, even as SFUSD planned a Mandarin middle school language pathway.

The very fact that KIP's 4th and 5th grades are combined into one large class, with 38 students in 2009, was in contrast to Starr King, where the PTA raises money for a an extra teacher to keep the Mandarin 4th and 5th grade classes small (around 15 each). Looking at Claire Lilienthal's PTA minutes, it seems that even the existing Korean staffing was not fully funded by SFUSD for 2012-13. Emergency funding from the PTA and the Korean Consulate made up for the shortfall.

This raised the question of whether there declining support by the administration or PTA for KIP. It's bad enough to have to raise money for your child's art, music and PE teachers. If you chose KIP, would you have to raise money for your child's regular teacher too?

A parent-created foundation, SFKIEA, formed in Fall 2012 with the goal of establishing long-term funding for the Korean immersion program, with apparent success. A letter to parents from the principal in the 4/3/2013 CL weekly bulletin said,"We thank the San Francisco Unified School District for providing additional funding, over and above our usual 'Weighted Student Formula' funding, to support an additional teacher in the 4th/5th KIP and Middle School Korean Language Pathway, for the first time in the history of Claire Lilienthal...We thank the coordinated efforts of parents and teachers working in partnership with the school and district administration to make this happen."

Although both JBBP programs at  Clarendon and Parks have separate parent organizations, the creation of SFKIEA appeared to stir up controversy within the larger Claire Lilienthal community. The Claire Lilienthal PTA then contemplated whether it should also form a foundation, but ultimately decided not to.

Parent Involvement

Claire Lilienthal identifies itself as a "Parent Partnership" school.  It seems to be a tight-knit social community as well, with Saturday socials where parents meet to sew quilts, and regular fundraisers double as social events.  In line with this, Lilienthal had the most open, available-to-the-public PTA minutes on its website of any school I looked at.

For the 2010-11 school year, the PTA (EIN 94-2954256)  raised $261k and spent $235k on programs, according to their 2010 IRS report. A third of their budget goes to fund PE and outdoor education aka field trips, with scholarships for needy students. The PTA also covers equipment purchases, arts education, the green schoolyard coordinator, a librarian, and a $1000 classroom supplies fund for each teacher.

Enrichment: Art, Music and Overnight Camping Trips

The artist-in-residence program brings one 12 week program per year for all students: drumming for kindergarten, ceramics/visual arts for 1st grade, dance for 2nd grade, visual arts for 3rd grade, and theater arts for 4th and 5th grades. 6th-8th graders can take an elective in musical theater. It struck me as being light on visual arts, perhaps because visual arts are easier to integrate into the regular curriculum than performing arts. I was a little disappointed because my child loves arts and crafts, and hates being the center of attention. But who know what will happen by 4th grade?

For music, K-2 has chorus, and grades 3-5 get the standard SFUSD instrumental music offering. The school participates in the Adventures in Music program with the SF Symphony.

PE takes place in the courtyard. I was underwhelmed by the PE instruction we saw during the tour; I didn’t see much aerobic activity or running around. First the kids stood around and half-heartedly hulahooped, then when it started to sprinkle, they stood under the eaves and played with various hand toys the ball on a string connected to a cup. Many of the classrooms open directly onto the courtyard, and I wondered if this limits the range of PE activities on the K-2 campus.

The Outdoor Education program sounds incredible.  It starts with day-long field trips for K-2 like hiking in Angel Island for 1st grade and Slide Ranch in 2nd. Third-6th graders go on a 3-4 night camping trip each year. Seventh graders go to Yosemite for a week, and 8th graders go to the Catalina Island Environmental Leadership program for a week. Families are expected to pay for these trips, which cost $600 by 7th-8th grade, but the PTA provides scholarship money. Of note: the cost of subsidizing Outdoor Education has been an issue for the PTA in the past, potentially affecting funds available for other areas.

Diversity

When I asked about LGBT support, the principal responded very positively, and emphasized that LGBT families are very active at and involved with the school and are an integral part of the community. It was by far the most affirming and welcoming response I've received on the public school tours.

The Korean kindergarten class I saw in the courtyard was almost entirely Asian or biracial, but this is within a school setting that is much more diverse. Claire Lilienthal is one of few SFUSD elementary schools where all major ethnic groups represented, with no clear majority group. There is some interaction between KIP and Gen Ed, especially during a week of "integration" where they mix up students to do projects with different teachers.

The principal, who is mostly based at the Scott campus for grades 3-8 this year, who seemed well-liked overall, appeared to have an especially good relationship with the African American students. Several got his attention to say hi as he took us around, and one banged on the window of the library while he was talking, to get his attention.

The student body is less poor than SFUSD for all racial groups.  For example, Latino and African American students at Claire Lilienthal are less likely to be economically disadvantaged than Latinos and African Americans in SFUSD as a whole. So while it's racially diverse, the classrooms don't have the extremes of affluence and poverty that were evident at Starr King, for example.

A potential disadvantage is that if you are looking for a sizable Chinese population, Claire Lilienthal is only 8% Chinese. On the other hand, if you are seeking a Korean population, Claire Lilienthal is the clear choice. It is 16% Korean, with  a third of SFUSD’s K-8 Korean enrollment. The next closest schools are Clarendon and Lakeshore at 2%. (For those looking at JBBP, a similar pattern exists at Clarendon and Rosa Parks, both 14% Japanese with a relatively low percentage of Chinese students. Clarendon and Rosa Parks between them have 38% of SFUSD’s Japanese K-5 enrollment.)

Hard of Hearing/Inclusion

Claire Lilienthal's facilities were "acoustically modified" for hard of hearing students. Some teachers are familiar with FM amplification systems, and so forth, to support hard of hearing students. The bonus is that the acoustic modifications create a better learning environment for all students.

When looking at CST test takers for grades 2-5, Claire Lilienthal has an unusually high percentage of students with disabilities--14%, compared to 8% for Clarendon, 4% at Buena Vista, 3% at Alice Fong Yu, and 0% at CIS.   I don't know how many of the students with disabilities have hearing impairment.

Facilities

The school is divided into 2 campuses, K-2 and 3-8. I only saw the K-2 campus. The K-2 school is arranged around a central courtyard. Like Alice Fong Yu, there are covered walkways on all four sides of the courtyard, including the upper levels. Two sides are made up of a charming older building with beautiful old tilework. The other 2 sides are new construction matching the architecture of the old building.

The older building includes an auditorium that is also used as a lunchroom. I especially liked that children get to sit down at tables inside to eat, unlike other schools I saw.

The library was unusually large and pleasant, one of the largest I've seen, which was especially impressive for just grades K-2. It has a separate computer alcove/area with 14 computers for students, all with purchased by the PTA.

There is a small garden area in process that looks like it will be very attractive once finished. In general, there is relatively little open space, just the courtyard and an upper blacktop with the garden and a playstructure.

According to Lilienthal's SARC, the Grade 3-8 campus in the Marina is a less lovely, less well-maintained 1930s building. The building is not large enough to accomodate all the students, so 8 bungalows arranged around the yard, a large unbroken expanse of blacktop with no visible greening on Google Maps.

Large Classroom Sizes in the Upper Grades?

Claire Lilienthal's 4 kindergarten classes (88 students) do not translate nicely into a multiple of 33 when classroom sizes increase in 4th/5th grade. All the other K-8 schools except Carmichael have 3 kindergarten classes of 22 , which conveniently turns into 2 classes of 33 in 4th grade. The KIP students appear to take the brunt of this awkward shift in 4th and 5th grade, forming a large combined 4th-5th grade class that pushes 40 students.  This allows the 3 Gen Ed kindergarten classes (66 students) nicely turn into 2 classes of 33 or less.

SFUSD relies on attrition to get the total grade enrollment at Claire Lilienthal down to 66 by 6th grade, with varying degrees of success. This results in potentially larger class sizes. Old PTA minutes mention concerns about a "bubble class" that still had 85 students in 5th grade. Last year, about 40% of the core classes from grades 6-8 had over 33 students per class according to their SARC--probably the 6th grade classes.

The ability to decrease class size in the upper grades is also limited by physical space: even with 66 students per grade, the upper school is overflowing. Eight bungalows already occupy its large schoolyard.


Middle School: Where All The Children Are Above Average?

All classes are taught at the honors level in middle school. This seems a bit disingenuous to me, especially given the unusually high percentage of 2nd-5th graders with identified disabilities (14%). Many of the students may be deaf or hard of hearing, as opposed to having learning disabilities, but I was skeptical that "honors for all" classes would be as challenging as the GATE classes at larger middle schools.  

Getting In: Nice School If You Can Get It

Because SFUSD relies on attrition to decrease the enrollment from 88 to 66 by 6th grade, Claire Lilienthal is not only one of the most popular schools for kindergarten, it is also one of the most difficult to transfer into. According to the principal, when students leave in the younger grades, they are not replaced. The assistant principal explicitly said during the tour that students are not allowed to transfer from KIP into general education, as in the past, some families had applied to KIP just to get into Claire Lilienthal, then requested a switch. In practice, students who are struggling in Korean immersion are given the opportunity to transfer to general ed, though perhaps not until the later grades.

KIP is no easier to get into than general education. As noted in an earlier post on this blog, in 2010, not even all the siblings got into KIP. First choice requests for Korean immersion in 2011 were 204% of capacity, compared to 219% for Chinese, 174% for JBBP  and 147% for Spanish. Demand was even higher in 2012, with 55 first choice requests, or 250% of capacity.*

Of the 22 immersion spots, 13 are for Korean-proficient speakers and 9 for English-only speakers. Unfortunately, unlike Mandarin immersion programs, which don't fill with native speakers, Korean proficiency does not guarantee you a spot. However, if your child can pass the language proficiency test, your odds are much, much higher.

The other way into Lilienthal is if you have a hard of hearing student seeking inclusion who will benefit from the acoustical modifications of Lilienthal’s facilities.

Update 4/2013: Just as in 2010, one or two siblings did not get into the KIP in round 1 this year.  Unlike past years, this year it was easier for children who did not pass the Korean proficiency test to get into KIP. This was due to an unprecedented number of children who took the Korean proficiency test, many of whom were native speakers.

*SFUSD Annual Report on Student Assignment System for the 2011-12 School Year, and the SFUSD School-Year 2012-2013 Total Requests by School/Grade/Program with Choice Ranking

Supporting Claire Lilienthal 


You can make a Paypal donation to the Claire Lilienthal PTA through the Paypal Giving Fund.  100% of your donation will go to the school.

You can also make a PayPal donation to the Claire Lilienthal PTA by going to clairelilienthal.org and clicking on the "Donate to the Annual Fund" image on the lower left. Please note: PayPal will take a cut of 2.2% + 30 cents. 

Here's two ways that cost you nothing.

  • Register your Safeway Club card and credit cards at eScrip.com (Claire Lilienthal ID: 136556020). A percentage of your purchases at eScrip merchants will automatically be donated to CL. The list is short but includes Safeway and Mollie Stone's.  Instructions at the Claire Lilienthal eScript webpage.
  • Register your Target RedCard in the Take Charge of Education program (Claire Lilienthal ID: 35346). 1% of your purchases will be donated to the school.


The Numbers


2011-2012 K-2 Enrollment by Ethnicity

Ethnicity
CL
SFUSD
Latino of any race
9% 
27%
Not Latino or Hispanic:
Asian*
30% 
33%
Filipino
2% 
4%
African American
9% 
9%
White
32% 
17%
Pacific Islander
0% 
1%
Two or More Races
12% 
6%
Not reported
5% 
3%
* Overall K-8 enrollment 16% Korean and 8% Chinese on SFUSD's CBEDS 2012-13 report.
  

2011-2012 Parent Education Level, Grades 2-5 only*


CL
SFUSD
Graduate School/Postgraduate
37% 
15%
College Grad
34%
22%
Some College/AA degree
10%
21%
High School Grad
6%
15%
Didn't graduate high school
1%
13%
Declined to State/Not Answered**
12%
13%

*CST test takers only. CAPA, CMA and STS not included. CST tests start at 2nd grade.
**For SFUSD, the "Declined to State" group has CST scores close to or slightly below the "Didn't graduate high school" group.

Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/


2011-2012 Economic Status, Grades 2-5 only*
Percent Eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch
(<185% of the Federal Poverty Level)
CL       
    SFUSD
All students 20%61%
Latino of any race 43%83%
Not Latino or Hispanic:
Asian21%65%
Filipino25%55%
African American 67%79%
White6%19%
Pacific Islander --83%
Two or More Races7%38%

*CST test takers only. CST tests start at 2nd grade.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/


2011-2012 CST Scores by Parent Education Level, Grades 2-5 only*


LilienthalSFUSD

ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
  grade level 
Graduate School/
     Postgraduate Education  
English 409
Math 461
90%
 94%
English 416
Math 455
89%
89%
College Degree (BA/BS)   English 398
Math 422
83%
81%
English 391
Math 428
78%
81%
Decline to state
     grades 2 and 3 only*
English 381
Math 434
82%
79%
English 339
Math 377
44%
60%

* The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other parent education levels and grades didn’t have enough published scores for comparison. The Decline to State group only had 38 students.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/



2011-2012 CST Scores by Economic Level, Grades 2-5 only*


Lilienthal SFUSD

ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
grade level 
NOT Economically
    Disadvantaged
English 405
Math 433
88%
88%
English 398
Math 433
80%
82%
Economically
    Disadvantaged 
English 367
Math 383
67%
64%
English 351
Math 385
52%
63%
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/





2011-2012 CST Scores by Ethnicity and Economic Level, Grades 2-5 only*

Lilienthal SFUSD
ScoreAt or above
grade level   
ScoreAt or above
grade level   
Asian,
    NOT economically disadvantaged  
English 412
Math 448
90%
93%
English 401
Math 454
82%
90%
White,
    NOT economically disadvantaged
English 405
Math 448
91%
91%
English 413
Math 442
88%
87%
Two or more races,
    NOT economically disadvantaged,
    grades 2-3 only for English,
    grades 2, 3 and 5 for Math
English 402
Math 469
93%
89%
English 401
Math 441
82%
85%

 *The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other grades and subgroups didn’t have enough published scores for comparison.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov/


2011-2012 Korean CST Scores: Lilienthal vs all other SFUSD, Grades 2-5 only

Lilienthal
SFUSD excluding CL*
Score
At or above
grade level   
Score
At or above
grade level   
Korean, 
    grades 2-4 only**   
English 417
Math 448
92%
95%
English 409
Math 461
81%
90%

* SFUSD's mean CST score for Koreans is significantly affected by Lilienthal, as Lilienthal represented 39% of all Korean CST takers for grades 2-5. For this reason, comparison is to Korean students not at Lilienthal rather than to SFUSD overall.
** The California Department of Education only publishes scores for grades with over 10 students in each subgroup. Other grades didn’t have enough published scores for comparison.
Source: http://star.cde.ca.gov

7 comments:

  1. Does anybody know if volunteering at the school helps with placement? I.e. if my wife who is Korean and fluent in reading and writing volunteered, would this increase our chances?

    ReplyDelete
  2. From what I understand, volunteering shouldn't matter in the lottery process.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, the volunteering shouldn't have any role at all. You might increase your chances if your child has some fluency in Korean since I think there are a number of slots held for fluent and/or bi-lingual students (I don't really have full knowledge of the process since immersion schools aren't a priority for us). However, your child would have to go through language assessment at the district offices to determine the level of fluency in order to get one of those slots.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Volunteering won't help. Making sure that your child is proficient in Korean will dramatically improve your odds. For Korean, the interviewer has a conversation with a child and uses the SOLOM rating scale to rank their proficiency on a scale of 1-5 in 5 domains: comprehension, fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. In the past, anything 15 or above has been considered "proficient." You can see the SOLOM grid at http://www.mc3edsupport.org/community/knowledgebases/student-oral-language-observation-matrix-solom-1061.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm the OP. Thanks for this information, appreciated. My wife and I will review the SOLOM information.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A few corrections / clarifications to the above information -
    School hours are 7:45AM - 1:45PM. Middle school start time is 7:40.
    Middle school also generally offers art electives - textiles and visual art.

    Integrations is not a "week" as noted above. It is multiple hours per week during most of the school year for grades 1-5. It's only the second half of the year for K.

    The "bubble class" issue noted was for one year in which there was a problem with the district's placement center. It was unrelated to the normal expected attrition, and middle school class size does not really seem to be an issue except for that one weird year. Although the middle school classes are usually 30+ kids.

    Both campuses have a green schoolyard program, although it may not show up in google maps as the Madison (K-2) campus's full garden is new as of 2012, and Scott's (3-8) is also fairly recent. There is a garden educator who works either full time hours, or almost full time.
    The PE is unaffected by the design of the courtyard. Sometimes the kids do more motor coordination activities (ball on string cup thing) and sometimes big running and jumping games.

    One thing not noted above, but which people may want to consider as an issue with all K-8 schools is that grades 6-8 get the shaft when compared to stand alone middle schools in terms of hours for a school counselor or other specifically middle school issues. This is sightly lessened by the fact that the current middle school PE teacher is amazingly capable of acting in that role, and that there are probably fewer issues due to the fact that most of these kids have known each other since kindergarten, the teachers and the principal know all the kids really weel, and there are not the same pressures to impress and act out as you might see in a stand alone middle school where everyone is new.

    There is one principal and one assistant principal. Although they do visit the other campuses on a regular basis, usually the assistant principal is at the K-2 campus, and the principal is at the big campus.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My kid goes to CL GE. This is an amazing summary. The fact you picked up on the huge divide between the KIP and the GE programs is truly exceptional work. Since the KIP program started their own PTAish group to fundraise for only kids in the KIP program, they still expect the regular PTA to fund all the usual programs for their kids. How is that fair? The result has been a significant decrease in KIP parent financial support of the regular PTA and a decrease in all parent participation in the PTA because, frankly, who wants to be a part of such decisiveness? I would expect this to get really really ugly in the next few years. I don't really care because my kid graduates this year.

    ReplyDelete