Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

School Overview Questions

1. What is a public charter school?
2. What is the cost of tuition?
3. Is there a school uniform (dress code)?
4. Does GALA have a sponsor (authorizer)?
5. Is living in the city of Cleveland required to be eligible for enrollment?
6. Where do the majority of students come from?
7. Where is GALA located?
8. What will be the teacher to student ratio?
9. What qualifications does GALA require of its teachers?
10. Will there be a school nurse on site? How will children with allergies or other conditions requiring special care be accommodated?
11. Does GALA provide specials (Art, Music, and Physical Education)?
12. Does GALA provide programming for gifted students and/or students with special needs?
13. Does GALA provide Special Education Services?
14. What extra and co-curricular activities are offered at GALA?
15. Will there be before and after school program offered?
 

Enrollment Questions

1. When are applications due?
2. Will my child’s application be given preference the sooner I submit it?
3. Will there be an admissions lottery?
4. What is the age cut-off for Kindergarten?
5. Can students apply to any grade?
6. Must my child already have language skills to enroll?
7. How many students attend GALA?
8. Is there a wait list or enrollment preference at GALA?
9. Does the wait list by grade carry over from year to year, or do I need to re-apply during the Open Enrollment period each year?
10. Will GALA adjust the number of classes per grade based on enrollment interest?
 

Language Immersion Questions

1. What is language immersion education?
2. What are the benefits of language immersion education?
3. What is the difference between a language immersion school and a bilingual school?
4. What is the difference between immersion and instruction?
5. How popular are language immersion schools?
6. What is GALA’s Language Immersion Model?
7. Where does GALA’s Language Immersion Model come from?
8. Why Mandarin?
9. How is literacy taught in Mandarin?
10. Why Spanish?
11. What about other languages?
12. Is prior knowledge of the immersion language required to enter the school?
13. How will my child respond to total immersion?
14. How long will it take for my child to become fluent in the immersion language?
15. Is Immersion Only For Above-Average Students?
16. When will students learn English?
17. Will language immersion students be able to attend traditional American schools later?
18. What resources will be made available for parents who do not speak the language their child is placed in?
19. What are the expectations for completing homework in other languages?
 

International Baccalaureate Questions

1. What is IB?
2. Is GALA an International (IBO World) School?
3. What is the Primary Years Programme?
 
 

School Overview Questions

1. What is a public charter school?

Charter schools are independently operated public schools that are open to all Ohio residents, regardless of their neighborhood, socioeconomic status, academic achievement, or ethnicity. There are no admission tests or tuition fees. Parents and students choose which particular charter school has the unique focus, curriculum, structure, size, environment and other features that best fit their needs.

Charter schools are part of the state’s public school system, but operate independently of the traditional school district in which they are physically located; GALA is its own independent public school district and is not managed by a for-profit charter management organization. Each charter school has its own governing board. Typically the founding board is a group of parents, teachers, and community members who came together to create a school with a particular focus (e.g., language acquisition, arts, science) or with a particular educational philosophy or approach to teaching (e.g., Montessori).

 

2. What is the cost of tuition?

There is no cost for all students.

 

3. Is there a school uniform (dress code)?

Yes. There is not an official school uniform at GALA. However, there is a dress code, consisting of: black or blue bottoms (skirts, pants, shorts, etc.) and black, blue or white tops. Sweaters must be black, blue, or white. Any shoes may be worn as long as they have closed-toes and are suitable for playing on the playground. Apparel with the GALA logo will be available for purchase.

 

4. Does GALA have a sponsor (authorizer)?

Yes. All charter schools in Ohio are sponsored by an “authorizer”. Authorizers include nonprofit organizations, school districts, higher education institutions, educational service centers, and the Ohio Department of Education. Charter schools are accountable to their authorizer, their parents and families, the state, and the public for achieving measurable results in student academic achievement and for practicing sound financial management.

 

5. Is living in the city of Cleveland required to be eligible for enrollment?

No. Any resident of Ohio may enroll.

 

6. Where do the majority of students come from?

Due to the popularity and scarcity of language immersion and International Baccalaureate schools, GALA anticipates high demand among families to enroll their students from within the city of Cleveland, as well as from across the Greater Cleveland area.

 

7. Where is GALA located?

GALA is located on the west side of Cleveland in the Jefferson neighborhood (Ward 16) at 13442 Lorain Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44111.

See: http://gala-prek8.org/about-gala/location-contact/
 

8. What will be the teacher to student ratio?

Each Kindergarten through 8th grade class has one teacher and one assistant teacher for up to 23 students. This yields a ratio of 1:12.

 

9. What qualifications does GALA require of its teachers?

All GALA teachers are required to be Highly Qualified as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act. In addition to these academic requirements, GALA teachers will demonstrate a commitment to the success of all of our students and families, be native or near-native speakers of their language of instruction, and have experience in early childhood or elementary education. As GALA works toward becoming an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) School, all staff will receive extensive and ongoing IB training.

 

10. Will there be a school nurse on site? How will children with allergies or other conditions requiring special care be accommodated?

Yes, GALA has a nurse and will be able to accommodate special care.

 

11. Does GALA provide specials (Art, Music, and Physical Education)?

Yes, every week all classes will have art, music, and physical education time.

 

12. Does GALA provide programming for gifted students and/or students with special needs?

Yes. GALA will provide special programs and services to meet the varying learning styles and differences of our scholars. Our teachers will be trained and receive professional development on best practices for differentiating instruction that address learning styles, learning differences, and readiness level.

 

13. GALA provide Special Education Services?

Yes, GALA will also provide Special Education services to all students who qualify. Though as a new school we cannot predict the specific needs of our entering students, we have developed a comprehensive assessment, follow-up and implementation strategy to meet the needs of students of all ability levels. GALA’s Special Education staff (speech pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, school psychology) are contracted through one of Ohio’s highly rated provider, Partners for Success and Innovation (PSI).

 

14. What extra and co-curricular activities are offered at GALA?

GALA will offer extra and co-curricular activities after school, based on student interest, grade level and availability of resources. Types of activities may include the following: various sports, cultural classes, art, gardening, newspaper, etc.

 

15. Will there be before and after school care offered?

Yes, for a pre-paid fee. Before school care will operate between 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and provide a quiet time to read, play games and finish assignments or do other work. After school care will operate between 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and include outdoor play, homework time and tutoring.

 

Enrollment Questions


1. When are applications due?
Check the Student Application page for the most current application deadlines and requirements.
 

2. Will my child’s application be given preference the sooner I submit it?

No. All applications are accepted up until the deadline. On the deadline, it will be determined if GALA has received more applications than available space. In the event GALA receives more applications than space available, we will enter into a random lottery. The lottery will be take place no later than April 1st.

 

3. Will there be an admissions lottery?

In the event GALA receives more applications than space available, we will enter into a random lottery. The lottery will be take place in March.

 

4. What is the age cut-off for Kindergarten?

Kindergarten students must be 5 years of age on or before September 30 of the year they enter kindergarten.

 

5. Can students apply to any grade?

Yes, if parents believe it is what is best for their child. However, national best practice among language immersion schools is to limit enrollment to Kindergarten through First Grade, as the benefits of immersion are based on starting immersion before the age of 7 year old.

 

6. Is prior knowledge of the language required to enroll?

No. There are no requirements for language skills in English, Mandarin or Spanish. GALA will not administer any tests for enrollment. It is expected that the majority of students will come from English-only speaking households. The immersion program is designed to teach children who do not have any prior immersion language knowledge.

 

7. How many students attend GALA?

Approximately 100 students per grade level, with half enrolled in GALA’s Mandarin Immersion Program (MIP) and the other half enrolled in GALA’s Spanish Immersion Program (SIP). At full capacity, as a K-8 school, approximately 900 students will attend GALA.

 

8. Is there a wait list or enrollment preference at GALA?

Wait lists are determined annually following the open enrollment period. Enrollment preference is given to siblings of students already enrolled at GALA.

 

9. Does the wait list carry over from year to year, or do I need to re-apply during the Open Enrollment period each year?

Wait lists are only carried through the year for which you applied. If you wish to apply for the next year, you must apply again during the Open Enrollment Period.

 

10. Will GALA adjust the number of classes per grade based on enrollment interest?

Yes.

 

Language Immersion Questions


1. What is language immersion education?

Students learn all core subjects (math, reading, science, social studies) in two languages: English and a Target Language (Mandarin or Spanish) for at least 50% of instructional time.

 

2. What are the benefits of language immersion?

3. What is the difference between a language immersion school and a bilingual school?
The student population being served. Language immersion schools (also known as one-way or foreign language immersion) serve a student population comprised of predominantly speakers with limited to no proficiency in the Target Language (Mandarin or Spanish). Bilingual schools (also known as two-way language immersion) serve a student population comprised of predominantly native speakers of the Target Language (Mandarin or Spanish).
 

4. What is the difference between immersion and instruction?

Time and method. In an immersion model, students spend at least half of all instructional time hearing, seeing, and using the target language throughout the day across multiple subject. Immersion simulates an environment of growing up with a language and focuses instruction on attaining the language skills needed for communicating about and understanding academic subject matter, not on mastering a target language for its own sake.

 

In contrast, a language instruction model typically is taught for a limited amount of time per week. In Ohio, most schools offer language instruction at the minimum requirement the Ohio Department of Education recommends: 90 minutes per week. Additionally, language instruction models emphasize direct instruction in vocabulary and conversational exchanges, segregate instruction of the target language from all other school subjects – making it difficult for students to practice and conceptualize use of the target language outside of the classroom, and often only have one teacher for an entire program.

 

5. How popular are language immersion schools?

Language immersion programs were first introduced in the U.S. in 1971. In 2011, there were 448 language immersion schools in 38 states (97 preschools, 337 elementary schools, 128 middle schools, 41 high schools). In Ohio, there are 6 language (French, Spanish) immersion schools in: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Mansfield.

 

6. What is GALA’s Language Immersion Model?

Students at GALA will experience dual language immersion across all academic subjects (math, reading, science, and social studies) through either GALAs Mandarin Immersion School or Spanish Immersion School. In grades K-2, instruction is provided in the target language for 70% of the school day and in English for 30% of the school day. In grades 3-5, instruction is provided in the target language for 60% of the school day and in English for 40% of the school day. In grades 6-8, instruction is provided in the target language for 50% of the school day and in English for 50% of the school day.

 

This model will involve two teachers per grade (K-8): one to provide instruction exclusively in the target language and the other to provide instruction exclusively in English. The goal is for all students to become bilingual and bi-literate while achieving at a high level of academic success, developing cross-cultural skills and globally competitive for the 21st century.

 

One detail specific to Mandarin literacy is important to note GALA will introduce characters only in grades K-1, and introduce pinyin in grade 2 (pinyin is the phonetic system for transcribing Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet). Given the sociolinguistic context of the U.S. and the relative lack of exposure to characters in the immediate environment, a premature introduction of pinyin will likely hinder character literacy development. GALA recognizes the special challenge of developing high levels of Mandarin literacy and the importance of children first making meaning with characters. This model is also best practice among Mandarin immersion program across the country to first introduce students to Chinese characters only and wait until either the second semester of grade 1 or beginning of grade 2 to introduce pinyin.

 

7. Where does GALA’s Language Immersion Model come from?

GALA built its school model on 18 months of researching national best practices, assessing the needs of its student population, and visits to model schools to bring a nationally-successful education model to Northeast Ohio.

 

8. Why Mandarin?

Mandarin (Chinese) is the most widely spoken language in the world, extending beyond the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan to Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Mongolia. As America’s economic, social and political ties to China develop, it is increasingly important that we prepare to work effectively with the one-fifth of the world’s population who speak Mandarin. GALA provides the knowledge and skills necessary for our students to do so. Additionally, Mandarin Chinese is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, a Category 4 in difficulty, according to the U.S. State Department. But if you learn Chinese as a child, and from native speakers, native-like proficiency can be achieved.

 

9. How is literacy taught in Mandarin?

Chinese characters are introduced starting in kindergarten. Pinyin (phonetic system for transcribing Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet) is taught starting in the 3rd grade.

 

10. Why Spanish?

More than 400 million people speak Spanish worldwide. Spanish speaking countries include: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela. More than 33 million people in America speak Spanish and the United States is ranked 5th on the list of countries with the most Spanish-speaking people. Spanish is also one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese, English and Hindustani.

 

11. What about other languages?

GALA plans to add additional critical languages, Arabic and Portuguese.

 

12. Is prior knowledge of the immersion language required to enter the school?

No. It is expected that the majority of students will come from English-only speaking households. The immersion program is designed to teach children who do not have any prior immersion language knowledge.

 

13. How will my child respond to total immersion?

Experience and research indicate that young children adjust well to total immersion settings, especially when their peers are navigating similar challenges. Additionally, children’s developing minds acquire language rapidly (age 0 to 7), allowing them to easily identify and reproduce sounds that don’t exist in their native language. GALA takes full advantage of this window of early natural language acquisition. Although the first few weeks will be a challenging adjustment, the environment quickly becomes ‘normal’.

 

14. How long will it take for my child to become fluent in the immersion language?

GALA students develop their new language in a pattern similar to natural language acquisition from birth to 18 months: silence, babbling, one word, two words, memorized phrases, original expression. During the first 18 months of immersion teachers expect that students will be developing this pattern of language production. Some students will reach this level much sooner than 18 months, but we allow for everyone to reach their language explosion before requiring complete language use. GALA student proficiency level targets for Mandarin Immersion and Spanish Immersion, set by standards from the American Council for Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the Flagship-Language Acquisition Network (F-LAN), are broken down in the following tables:

 

Mandarin Immersion – ACTFL Proficiency Level Targets

Grade Listening Speaking Reading Writing
K Novice-High Novice-Mid Novice-Low Novice-Low
1 Intermediate-Low Novice-High Novice-Mid Novice-Mid
2 Intermediate-Mid Novice-High Novice-High Novice-Mid
3 Intermediate-High Intermediate-Low Novice-High Novice-High
4 Intermediate-High Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Low
5 Advanced-Low Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Low
6 Advanced-Mid Intermediate-High Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Mid
7 Advanced-High Advanced-Low Intermediate-High Intermediate-High
8 Superior Advanced-Mid Advanced-Low Advanced-Low

 

Spanish Immersion – ACTFL Proficiency Level Targets

Grade Listening Speaking Reading Writing
K Novice-High Novice-Mid Novice-Mid Novice-Mid
1 Intermediate-Low Novice-High Novice-Mid Novice-High
2 Intermediate-Mid Novice-High Novice-High Novice-High
3 Intermediate-High Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Low
4 Intermediate-High Intermediate-Low Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-Low
5 Advanced-Low Intermediate-Mid Intermediate-High Intermediate-Mid
6 Advanced-Mid Intermediate-High Advance-Low Intermediate-High
7 Advanced-High Advanced-Low Advanced-Mid Advanced-Low
8 Superior Advanced-Mid Advanced-High Advanced-Mid

 

ACFTL Proficiency Level Definitions:

Novice – ability to communicate minimally in highly predictable common situations with previously learned words/phrases.
Intermediate – ability to combine learned elements of language creatively, though primarily in a reactive mode; the speaker can initiate, minimally sustain, and close basic communicative tasks; the speaker can ask and answer questions and can speak in discrete sentences and strings of sentences on topics that are either autobiographical or related primarily to his or her immediate environment.
Advanced – ability to converse fluently and in a clearly participatory fashion; the speaker can accomplish a wide variety of communicative tasks and can describe and narrate events in the present, past, and future, organizing thoughts, when appropriate, into paragraph-like discourse. The speaker can discuss concrete and factual topics of personal and public interest in most informal and formal conversations and can be easily understood by listeners unaccustomed to non-native speakers.
Superior – ability to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social, professional, and abstract topics. Using extended discourse, the speaker can explain in detail, hypothesize on concrete and abstract topics, and support or defend opinions on controversial matters.
 

15. Is Immersion Only For Above-Average Students?

Immersion education has been proven through research to be effective for all learners, including students with many special education needs, socio-economic challenges, gifted-talented students, and non-native English speakers (of any language).

 

16. When will students learn English?

Students first learn to read and write in the immersion language and then learn to read and write in English. Formal English language education will begin starting in the kindergarten and continue through eighth grade.
 

17. Will language immersion students be able to attend traditional American schools later?

Language immersion students successfully transition to all-English school environments. Each GALA school will meet or exceed the Ohio state content standards and No Child Left Behind expectations. Alternatively, GALA plans to establish a language immersion high school for grades 9-12 or partner with a neighboring high school to offer a variety of content courses (math, science, social studies) and advanced language arts in the target language.

 

18. What resources will be made available for parents who do not speak the language their child is placed in?

Parents will not be expected to assist children in the target language. However, parents will be expected to support their children’s learning in their native language. In the future, GALA hopes to provide adult language classes for interested parents.

 

19. What are the expectations for completing homework in other languages?

Children will have homework in English and the target language. However, teachers will provide homework that does not require parental understanding of the target language. Parents will be expected to support their children’s learning in their native language(s).

 

International Baccalaureate (IB) Questions


1. What is IB?

IB stands for International Baccalaureate and is a Swiss-based education program renowned for its academic rigor, international curriculum and high standards. The International Baccalaureate Organization is a non-profit organization that has designed three educational programs that provide a curricular framework for teaching students from ages 3 to 19 years (Primary Years Program, Middle Years Program, Diploma Program).

 

2. Is GALA an IBO World School?

IB World School authorization is a process designed to ensure schools employ the program to IB standards. The authorization process requires extensive training for instructional and administrative staff, parent education, shared leadership and collaborative teaching practices throughout the school. Authorization typically takes three years from the time a school submits its candidacy application. GALA is in the early stages of this process in pursuing authorization as an IB World School. GALA will submit a candidacy application in April 2017 to receive authorization by August 2020. Although GALA will not be authorized until 2020, the school will implement the IB PYP from the start of our opening year.

 

3. What is the Primary Years Programme?

The Primary Years Programme is the IB curricular framework for ages 3 through 12. It is not a stock curriculum that a school purchases, but a method of designing overlapping areas of learning that every teacher studies and implements. The core goal of the Primary Years Programme is to enable students to construct their own meaning during lessons by connecting the content with their personal experiences. The PYP helps children develop strong character and positive attitude. In each unit of study, students are encouraged to apply the material they have learned to their personal lives and impact their local communities.
 

The PYP develops students’ academic, social and emotional well-being, focusing on international-mindedness and strong personal values. The PYP incorporates local and global issues into the curriculum, asking students to look at six related, trans-disciplinary themes and to consider the links between them. These themes will provide GALA with the opportunity to incorporate local and global issues into the curriculum and effectively allow students to go beyond the confines of learning within subject areas. The six themes are: (1) Who we are; (2) Where we are in place and time; (3) How we express ourselves; (4) How the world works; (5) How we organize ourselves; and (6) Sharing the planet.