The Baltimore International Academy (BIA) East is Baltimore City's first international language immersion school, and, in contrast to most other existing international schools, BIA East is a public school that is available to all of Baltimore’s students. Beyond the international emphasis, the philosophy of the BIA East is to use innovative (in Baltimore) yet proven teaching and learning methods to improve student learning and to expand school choice for students in the City of Baltimore.
The immersion program offered by the BIA East starts from kindergarten or grade 1, when students are immersed in a foreign language and are taught all their academic subjects in that foreign language, with English taught by specialist English Language Arts teachers beginning in grade 2. Furthermore, in lieu of concentrating on a single foreign language for the immersion experience, BIA East has chosen to offer five different immersion possibilities to enhance cultural diversity and the school’s international context.
The founders of BIA East firmly believe, based on existing research, that enriching our curriculum with an emphasis on foreign languages improves the academic performance of our students. A full professional treatise on the benefits of early second language learning and the benefits of being bilingual is available on the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) website, in Kathleen M. Marcos’s report “Second Language Learning:
Everyone Can Benefit” at http://www.cal.org/earlylang/benefits/marcos.html. Research on local programs in Fairfax, VA showed that students who had participated for five years in immersion scored as well as, or better than, all comparison groups on achievement tests and that they remained high academic achievers throughout their schooling (Thomas, W. P., V. P. Collier, and M. Abbott. 1993, “Academic Achievement Through Japanese, Spanish, or French: The First Two Years of Partial Immersion.” Modern Language Journal 77 (2): 170–180). A case-matched, controlled, longitudinal study completed in 2002 by the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Office of Testing & Accountability demonstrated a “valued-added” component to the academic performance of the students in the French Immersion Programs; that is, after exposure to the programs, students scored better than comparable peers not in the program when matched for grade, gender, race, socio-economic status, and initial test and aptitude scores.