Frequently Asked Questions About Innovation Institute and TWIN-CS
The Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education
1. What exactly is the Innovation Institute?
The Innovation Institute facilitates the design and delivery of educational innovations for study and adoption by nationally selected Catholic schools. The work of the Institute is directed by Boston College and is supported by grants, sponsorships, and partnerships with scholars, key stakeholders in business and community leaders. Creative partnerships ensure research and programming to provide game changing excellence in the field of Catholic education.
2. What is unique and different about the Innovation Institute?
The most unique component of the Innovation Institute is its intentional design to build upon existing collaboration among Catholic institutions of higher education, enabling the Institute to use and advance cutting edge educational initiatives developed by university leaders. More importantly, programming is designed to advance the academic excellence for all students, who are the beneficiaries of the Institute's work.
3. How is the TWIN-CS Program a part of the Institute?
The TWIN-CS (Two-Way Immersion Network for Catholic Schools) is a distinctive academic program that is the first initiative of the Institute. Two-way immersion is nationally recognized as the most effective approach to bilingual education. TWIN-CS differs from the more traditional approaches to language instruction in two key ways. First, it totally supports bilingualism and biliteracy for all students. Second, students are not separated by their native languages, nor taught separately, in their native languages. Instead, they are classmates and peer instructors, sharing their language models with each other and subsequently becoming bilingual together.
4. Why was the TWIN-CS selected as the first initiative?
TWIN-CS was developed to meet the needs of the 21st century student, who must be prepared for a global society. This requires intentional programs that support biliteracy and bilingualism. Also, Catholic schools are seeking new ways to serve the significantly underserved, culturally and linguistically, diverse students whose population is growing in every area of the country. Expanding educational opportunities for these students is seen as a natural progression for Catholic schools, building on our history of service and excellence. Some view this as a moral imperative for Catholic schools, as we are called to be academically accessible and excellent for all students. Correspondingly, it is a sound investment in the economic and social development of our local communities.
5. Why is the TWIN program limited to elementary schools?
The majority, 79%, of two-way immersion programs in the United States work at the K-5 level. The research indicates that these initiatives are most successful when they are introduced into the pre-kindergarten through kindergarten levels, and then expanded each year as the students step up to the next grade level.
6. What languages are going to be taught in the selected TWIN-CS schools?
The majority, 93%, of two-way immersion programs in the United States are English-Spanish. Research on these programs tends to concentrate on elementary schools with large populations of Latino students. The TWIN-CS program serves nine schools whose target languages are Spanish and English and two schools targeting Mandarin and English.
7. How many schools are part of the TWIN-CS Initiative?
Eleven schools have been selected to participate in the initial cohort and represent a cross section of diocesan, regional, and parish based schools.
8. Where are some of these schools located?
The cohort schools are located in ten different states from California and Washington to New York and Rhode Island. The states included are AZ, CA, MD, MN, NY, RI, TX, WA, and WI.
9. How were schools selected for the TWIN-CS Initiative?
All selected schools are recognized as Catholic schools by the local Bishop and serve grades K-3, with a diverse student population. At least one-third of the student population speaks the same non-English language. In addition, schools have demonstrated a commitment to two-way immersion, support for vibrant learning communities, and exemplify the capabilities necessary to initiate and sustain the systemic changes required for the implementation and delivery of the curriculum.
10. Do all of the teachers in a TWIN-CS school have to be bilingual?
No, not every teacher must be bilingual because instruction time is spent in each target language. It is preferred that over time the majority of teachers are bilingual.
11. Is it expensive for a school to participate in the TWIN-CS program?
School teams pay for their transportation to the summer academy and are responsible for the cost of program implementation in their individual schools. Additionally, there is a nominal fee that is paid by each school that helps defray the cost of the summer academy. Total costs for the design team, research, mentors, and support are provided by the Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College with sponsorship funding from NCEA and foundational grants.
12. What happens if a school cannot afford the expenses associated with the TWIN-CS program?
One of the considerations that all schools made when preparing for application to the program was the inherent cost. Some of the resources provided to the schools include access to onsultants, coaches, and mentors, as well as webinars about accessing funding for their program. This may include information on using Title II funds, grant writing, or other potential fundraising avenues.
13. What happens to a school after the summer academy?
Following the summer academy, there will be on-going support from the faculty design team and trained mentors and coaches. Schools will participate in monthly webinars and professional workshops in collaboration with other schools from their cohort to ensure ongoing learning. School teams will be supported to amend and enrich their designs and to continuously assess and improve their model. Most importantly, all TWIN schools will be part of a networked support system to encourage each other's success.
14. Will additional schools be added to the original 11 TWIN-CS schools?
Catholic schools that are currently operating successful TWI models may be invited to join the network. As the network matures and develops its own expertise, TWIN will look to recruit and welcome other schools that wish to pursue this opportunity.
15. Have there been any concerns regarding the implementation of the TWIN-CS initiative?
Certainly there have been questions and concerns from parents and educators. In every case, the more people that learn about the benefits of the TWIN-CS models, the more accepting they become. Change is never easy, but change is necessary for organizations to grow and thrive.
16. What else is important to know about TWIN-CS?
While 50% of the people in the world are bilingual, only 10% of educated people in the United States speak two languages. If a student speaks Spanish and English, he or she can communicate with 80% of the world. Central to being a global citizen and valuable to any future career, known or yet to be known, is fluency in more than one language and culture. And fortunately, for our young people, Catholic schools are uniquely positioned to adopt and integrate change more easily than schools bound to larger bureaucratic systems.