West Aurora School District 129, IL - 2013 Transformation Award Winner

Mary Kate Appel

Transformation Award: For giving middle school students a head start with world language learning and better preparing them for AP level language courses.

West Aurora School District 129 recognizes that in a global economy, students need exposure to other languages and cultures in order to be successful in college and their careers. The district wanted to give students a head start by introducing them to world languages prior to high school. West Aurora decided to create a program for the most highly capable students in each middle school grade, with a goal to stimulate and challenge students. These students would experience a world language curriculum with added rigor that is enriched with technology.      

With the help of Middlebury Interactive Languages™, West Aurora introduced a program that offers high school level world language courses to middle school students in its gifted classes. Students are motivated by the format and activities embedded in the program. They are able to choose the language they are interested in learning, and off-site teachers give students the feedback they need without the district having to disrupt its staffing plans.

The result is that students receive appropriate, challenging, learning experiences. Moreover, students enjoy learning languages in this format and often practice at home in the evening.  

West Aurora’s results are outstanding. The first year of the program, 85 percent of the middle school world language students earned a B grade or higher, and for the first time, the district has middle schoolers who are ready for AP® level language instruction as high school freshmen. There is such a demand for the world language program from the West Aurora community that the district has expanded online language experiences to its elementary and high school students.

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