Because other elementary schools in the district do not administer standardized tests until 3rd grade, there is no information to compare to VAIS students' tests scores to other elementary schools. However, last year VAIS kindergarten and 1st grade students participated in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in reading and math. ITBS® is a nationally standardized achievement test for K-12 students. That means we can compare our students' scores to children across the country.
One of the concerns of any language immersion program is whether or not students will continue to thrive in their native language, which is English for the majority of our students. Not only did VAIS students thrive in English reading, they scored in the top 2% and 5% percent in the nation. By April of our first year (2010-2011), our first-grade students ranked in the 95th percentile in Reading. As for our kindergarten students, they out-scored 98% of all other participating schools in the diagnostic for Reading-Words! (That means that, as a school, VAIS kindergartners scored better in Reading-Words than 98% of all schools participating in the ITBS nationwide.) These scores are remarkable and show our students are still getting all of their English literacy skills while learning half their subjects in Chinese.
Our school's national percentile ranks in math are equally outstanding. In the Spring of 2011, both VAIS kindergartners and first-graders, as a school, scored in the 99th percentile of the schools participating in the ITBS. Even though math is taught in Mandarin at VAIS, understanding a math test administered in English was clearly not a challenge for our students. One of our strategies has been to identify key math vocabulary words to be taught in both English and Mandarin. We plan to continue this practice of cross vocabulary instruction.