West Coast School District Uses East Coast Model

By Mary Ann Zehr — August 30, 2007 1 min read

Oakland Unified School District in California this week opened its first school that enrolls only immigrant students. Called the Oakland International High School, it is modeled after international high schools in New York City for newcomers to the United States, according to a news broadcast by a California television station. The school aims to help English-language learners acquire the language and academic skills they need to graduate from high school and go on to college.

The school was started with help from the Internationals Network for Public Schools, a nonprofit organization in New York City that gives support to eight public high schools and one program within a school for newly arrived immigrants in that city. Claire E. Sylvan, the executive director of the network, said she sought out Oakland school district officials and found they were receptive to having her organization help replicate the international high school model.

Ms. Sylvan said her group chose California because it has many English-language learners and also because it provides in-state college tuition rates for undocumented students. The network rejected the idea of helping to start an international school in Minnesota, for instance, because it doesn’t offer such a tuition break, she added.

Oakland International High School started with 75 9th graders and will add a new grade each year for the next three years. The school’s Web site says the school has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ms. Sylvan said her staff has helped the Oakland school with planning, curriculum, and fundraising. Graduation rates for ELLs who attend the international high schools in New York City are higher than for ELLs in the city’s school system overall and also higher than those for all students in the system, she noted.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.

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