Understanding the French Programs
- The International Studies (IS) program is foreign language-focused with a rigorous academic curriculum that incorporates multicultural learning, truly combining the best of what American and European schools have to offer. The IS program provides two to three hours of daily of language instruction (and in the upper grades, it often includes math or history taught in the foreign language as well). In Miami, the IS programs offered in French, is supported by FIPA and has a Memorandum of Understanding with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS). The IS program begins in first grade and runs through 12th grade, with priority matriculation from elementary school to middle school, and from middle school to high school. This means that a student who gains admission to an IS program in elementary school, and who meets the minimum admissions criteria established by MDCPS for the IS program, will receive priority in the admissions lottery for entry to the IS middle school and high school programs. (Note that only students who can demonstrate prior knowledge of the foreign language can gain entry into an IS program after the first grade.) However, Miami-Dade County Public Schools requires that all students moving from an IS elementary school program to an IS middle school program.
- The International Education (IE) program is a strong academic program designed to prepare motivated students for the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program in high school. Like the International Studies (IS) program, the IE program offers a strong academic curriculum that stresses multi-cultural learning and provides foreign language instruction in French. However, while the IE language instruction is rigorous, it is not as intense as that of the IS program. The IE program gives students just one hour of foreign language instruction per day versus the IS program’s two to three hours per day. Students in the IE program also begin studying their chosen language much later than IS students: sixth grade or later vs. first grade. Finally, unlike the IS program, students may enter an IE program in middle school or an IB program in high school without the need to demonstrate language fluency or even any prior knowledge of that language, provided they meet the academic requirements and win a spot in the lottery.
- The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is a comprehensive, demanding, pre- university course of study established by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Only IBO-approved schools can offer the two-year program. The IB program emphasizes exceptional academics, intercultural understanding, critical thinking, and responsible world citizenship. The IB program actually begins in eleventh grade, but most students enter the program on a pre-IB status in ninth grade, taking preparatory honors-type courses. To obtain the coveted IB Diploma, students must write a 4000- word extended essay, conduct independent research, complete a community service project, and pass extensive examinations in six subject areas, of which foreign language is only one. These tests are graded by IB examiners throughout the world, with final scores being determined by the Chief examiners in Cardiff, Wales. Those who don’t qualify for an IB Diploma receive a regular high school diploma along with certificates for the IB exams they passed.
- What is Homologation? Miami-Dade county public schools and France have an agreement whereby an American homologated school curriculum is approved by the French Ministry of Education. Currently, ISCHS is the only school in the Miami-Dade system which is homologated by France. FIPA has played a large part in obtaining and maintaining this certification.
- What is the Label FrancEducation? Label FrancEducation is a seal of quality for French dual language education awarded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs through its Agency for French Education Abroad. There are 36 schools in the United States that have received this recognition, including our own Coconut Grove Elementary School, Sunset Elementary School, G.W. Carver Middle School, and ISPA (the only schools in Florida to do so). To apply for accreditation, schools must meet a set of rigorous criteria: A minimum of 30% of subjects must be taught in French; teachers must be highly qualified, certified, and fluent in French; the school must have a strong professional development plan and a commitment to quality education; it must participate in official language tests; and it must provide an environment that inspires an interest in French culture.
- What is the DELF? The DELF and DALF are diplomas awarded by the French Ministry of Education to prove the French-language skills of non-French candidates or even French students who didn’t come from homologated schools. High school students in the IS program are qualified to sit for the DELF exam, but exams must be taken in a certified exam center. Alliance Française is now offering to take the exams.