January 12, 2022 News

Irving Dual Language Elementary staff and parents respond to ranking given by Iowa Department of Education

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School rankings by the Iowa Department of Education have been released, and not all agree with their findings.

Especially with one school in particular.

“It’s not your typical school, meaning there’s a lot more going on here,” said Nick Taylor, whose kids went to Irving Dual Language Elementary School when they were younger.

Faculty and families of students who attend Irving Elementary say the rating doesn’t even begin to tell the story of the school or its impact on students and families.

“When we made the decision to move to Irving, it was to establish a way to have them grow up with people who look like the rest of the world rather than just Iowa,” said Rebecca Whitlock, a parent of an Irving Elementary student.

“It just opened her eyes to the world. I’m not going to get this right, the numbers of different cultures that are within Irving Elementary, but it opened her eyes to see how other people learn and grow,” said Nick Taylor.

Irving is the only school in the district where classrooms follow a 50/50 model of instruction; students spend half of the day learning in Spanish and the other half of the day learning in English.

It is one of the district’s largest minority to majority ratio schools, with 70% of the students designated as ELL and ESL learning.

On top of that, ELL learners are said to be hit hardest academically during the pandemic, but teachers at Irving say that has only made them work harder, perfecting lesson plans and making sure the students understand the material.

“Our staff does so much to learn the new research, we have group chats, we know we are here to make a difference and we see it in our students,” said Irving Elementary kindergarten teacher, Yesenia Macias.

The parents agree with the variety of cultural experiences and unique curriculum, saying their children are learning much more than what can be measured by a standardized test.

“And it’s not going to fit your typical rubric. It’s going to be a little different. But I think if we used this model more, we’re going to see a lot more positive action in our communities,” said Kitt Mallin, another Irving Elementary parent.

You can read the full story by KCAU’s Gage Teunissen and Mallory Smith here.