Language Policy

Words are the leaves of the tree of language, of which, if some fall away, a new succession takes their place. ~John French

The Union Academy Language Policy Committee consists of the Language and Literature and Language Acquisition teachers, as well as the media center specialist, MYP coordinator, school principal and school assistant principal.

Union Academy is committed to serving all students through the IB Middle Years Programme. Language is a vital instrument for learning, and every teacher on our campus is considered a teacher of language. We know the instruction in English as well as learning a second language positively affects intellectual growth and enhances a child’s cognitive development. Through the exploration of language, students become communicators in our multilingual world.

  •  Inquirers – One who possesses the skills to conduct inquiry and work independently
  •  Principled – One who approaches language acquisition with integrity
  •  Open-minded – One who is open to other languages and opinions
  •  Risk Takers – One who has the initiative to explore a new language
  •  Communicators – One who can express ideas and concepts clearly and articulately in the designated language
  •  Reflective – One who thoughtfully considers strengths and weaknesses in language
  •  Knowledgeable – One who actively learns and practices the native language as well as a second language and appreciates the need for  effective communication
  •  Thinker – One who actively follows through the thinking processes of acquiring and excelling in any language
  •  Caring – One who encompasses respect and compassion for languages around the world
  •  Balanced – One who balances mental, social, and physical importance of listening, reading and speaking languages

Union Academy follows the IBO MYP program requirements. English is the language of instruction for all classes at the school.All students will take at least one Language and Literature class and one Language Acquisition class.. For Language and Literature classes, the language of instruction is English. For Language Acquisition classes, the language of instruction is Spanish once students have reached the necessary skill level to allow instruction in the target language. This experience is essential to the international experience and enables the students to understand another culture.

Since students must meet English requirements provided by the state standards, English is the language of instruction for Language and Literature. The development of Language and Literature is crucial as it allows students to make connections within and across subject areas, facilitated by the Global Contexts. Therefore, all students are required to take Language and Literature in grades six, seven, and eight. The district curriculum, along with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, has been aligned with the MYP Language and Literature Aims and Objectives outlined in the MYP Language and Literature Subject Guide.

It is the expectation that all students be enrolled in a Spanish class in grades 6-8. Phase placement (level of proficiency) will be determined through final exams and/or teacher recommendations. Incoming 6th grade students will be enrolled in phase 1 unless they are a native speaker, then they will be placed in phase 2. Due to state mandated requirements, some (currently three) students may be given the option of taking Spanish through a virtual class. We recognize the importance of students becoming culturally and linguistically proficient in a second language (Language Acquisition). In order to encourage the use of the student’s native tongue, periodicals and newspapers will be provided in the native language. Students will be expected to speak and write in Spanish. The district curriculum, along with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, has been aligned with the MYP Language Acquisition Aims and Objectives outlined in the MYP Language Acquisition  Subject Guide.Students in year three have the opportunity to take high school credit Spanish as their Language Acquisition course.  All Spanish classes are taught daily.  High school credit Spanish students are monitored quarterly and transferred into the middle school Spanish class if they are struggling with the course.

Union Academy provides in-school access to Rosetta Stone for all students, whether or not they are currently in a Spanish class. Rosetta Stone is also available to all staff members. .

Union Academy will implement the following reading practices:

  • reading will take place in all subject areas, and students will read across the curriculum whenever appropriate;
  • a variety of practices will be used when planning for instruction, which include but is not limited to guided reading groups, differentiated reading instruction, word lists, graphic organizers, and use of leveled reading material(as determined by STAR )
  • students will be encouraged to set reading goals, read for information, read for pleasure and read aloud expressively;
  • students will be exposed to a variety of genres, including literature, poetry, plays, short stories, informational text and newspapers/magazines such as New York Times Upfront, Read and Scholastic Math;
  • teachers will promote and incorporate supplemental reading incentives and support programs, such as Accelerated Reader and TeenBiz for Intensive Reading classes;
  • vocabulary building techniques such as word walls, specific-content vocabulary and literary elements such as metaphors and similes will be utilized across the curriculum, whenever appropriate.

Union Academy will implement the following writing practices:

  • students’ natural desire to communicate through writing will be fostered by giving real-world purpose to their writing, and by introducing them to varied, challenging, and meaningful writing opportunities;
  • ensure consistency of the promotion of the writing process (planning, outlining, drafting, editing, proofreading, publishing), as age-appropriate throughout the grade levels;
  • students will be provided with opportunities to express themselves in writing through a variety of genres, including but not limited to journaling and essays. Students will be provided with opportunities to acquire, develop and use language specific to different subject areas;
  • development of writing will be supported by providing constructive feedback from teachers and peers; teachers will provide instruction in and model the correct usage of written and oral language conventions, including spelling, grammar, rules of punctuation, and handwriting.
  • literary elements (i.e., foreshadow, symbolism, imagery, etc.) will be reviewed in order to teach good writing skills that allow for more interesting reading.

English as a Second Language:

While we have students who speak Spanish as their native language, we do not have any students who are non-English speaking. In other words, all of our students speak English fluently. For this reason, we do not currently offer any additional services. Should this situation change, we would address the needs of non-English speaking students.

Instruction for Struggling Readers:

Union Academy serves students at all levels of academic readiness. This means that we must have safety nets in place for those students who demonstrate below-standard proficiency in language skills. These students, identified by our yearly state assessment test, take an intensive reading class daily. Students who are placed in this course are those who scored at a Level 1 or 2 on the reading portion of the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA.) These students are placed in the Intensive Reading class, in addition to the regularly scheduled Language and Literature class. These classes are designed to increase the student’s specific reading needs – decoding skills, fluency, and/or comprehension of text – in order to achieve higher levels of success.  Achieve 3000/Teen Biz articles and teaching strategies are used in these classes. The aims of these classes are to accelerate the growth in reading beyond one to two years in a school year.


In order to improve teaching and enhance learning, a variety of assessment tools will be used. Teachers will use rubrics and formative and summative assessments as outlined in MYP: From principles into practice. Teachers will also utilize data from district-level assessments, such as STAR Testing, on a quarterly basis in addition to the Florida Standards Assessments to monitor the progress and development of reading skills. District-wide writing assessment and portfolio are reviewed three times yearly, at all grade levels.

Teachers will use a wide variety of summative assessments that will measure students’ overall performance on a particular unit of study. These will include essays, digital projects, labs, discussions, tests, projects, oral examinations, and other writing assignments. The summative assessments in each subject area will be modeled after the summative assessments required by the IB for the Middle Years Program in year five of the program. Because we offer only the first three years of the program, our assessments, the objectives they assess, and the criteria we use to determine performance are modified from year five.

Both students and parents will regularly receive feedback on student progress with regard to student behavior, performance related to MYP criteria, the district grading system, and performance on state exams through weekly progress reports, STAR, interim reports, quarterly report cards, and daily access to Pinnacle and Global Scholar (district parent portal).

Teaching and Planning

Teachers will plan together at each grade level in each department weekly to ensure the rigor and quality of each lesson. Teachers will meet weekly with horizontal or vertical teams to ensure all possible opportunities for cross-disciplinary instruction in language development are taken.

Media Center:

The Media Center plays an integral role in the support of language development at Union Academy. Currently, we are enhancing our collection of print books, magazine titles, eBooks and databases offered to students whose native language is other than English. Spanish eBooks are being used through the Language Acquisition classes in which the students can read and take accelerated reading (AR) quizzes on the computer in Spanish, or they may read the Spanish eBooks for pleasure. The use of the Unlimited Access Spanish eBooks has added a new dimension to the use of literature in the Language Acquisition classroom by offering an unlimited number of Spanish Language books for academics and pleasure reading. Periodicals have also become an important asset to the Language B curriculum. The magazine FACES: People, Places and Cultures is used by the media specialist to teach research Skills. The magazine Iguana and Que Tal? provides teachers and students with up to date articles from the Latin and Hispanic communities and people from around the world. Additionally, students may utilize the Rosetta Stone Language Lab through the Media Center to enhance their Language Acquisition experience.

The media specialist fosters language and reading throughout the entire school. She encourages students to use their local public libraries in which books can be mailed to their home for their reading pleasure or academic needs. She also works with the Literacy Committee in selecting the required summer reading book. Throughout the year she assists teachers as they plan their individual and interdisciplinary units by researching and purchasing supplemental resources. She accesses the teachers’ MYP unit plans through ManageBac and compiles materials to enhance the teachers units through print and audiovisual resources. Teachers were also invited by the media specialist to attend a book buying trip to acquire books that would enhance their individual and interdisciplinary units.
Rewarding students for their academic success in reading is managed by the Media Specialist. She organizes and coordinates quarterly student AR reward days in which students are rewarded with special activities for achieving their individual reading goals.

The Media Center is essentially the hub of all language development throughout the school.

Academic Honesty

  • Students who are mature enough to select a difficult and valuable program must also be mature enough to face a low grade when they’ve earned it.
  • Cheating allows a student to receive the same or better grade than students who have put in the time and effort to master the material. Dishonestly inflated grades ultimately raise the cheater’s grade point, simultaneously lowering the rank of students who study.
  • Not only does cheating misrepresent a student’s mastery of the subject to parents, it also distorts the perception of curriculum effectiveness and class progress.
  • The threat of cheating forces the teacher to patrol and sleuth; these are activities that reduce the amount of time he or she has available for productive teaching and course improvement.
  • The adherents of almost all religions and philosophies believe cheating to be morally wrong.

Cheating includes: Plagiarizing another’s words or ideas (including data downloaded from the internet) in a report, research paper, or extended essay, copying homework or allowing your work to be copied, accepting someone’s work or giving answers, using unauthorized cheat sheets, giving out questions that are on a test, using unauthorized preprogrammed formulas or programs on calculators during tests or quizzes, and using cell phones or unauthorized electronics during tests or quizzes.

Union Academy treats cheating as a serious matter. In addition to losing credit for the assignment, the students will face one or more of the following disciplinary actions according to Polk County Code of Conduct: Parental Assistance, Office Intervention, Detention or Work Detail, In-School Suspension, Out-of-School– Short-Term and Out-of-School– Long-Term.

Students are not to share or obtain another student’s log-in credentials for any of the following:
•  Google Docs (myPolkApps)
•  ManageBac (Community & Service)
•  Student Portal
•  Accelerated Reader (AR)
•  Teenbiz
•  Compass Odyssey
•  Rosetta Stone

Violation of the Academic Honesty Policy can result in exit from Union Academy to the student’s home school.

Assessment Policy

• To promote meaningful reporting to students, parents and guardians about student progress and learning.
• To improve instructional practices and increase student achievement.
• To enable students numerous opportunities to reflect on their own learning.

Each year our school is evaluated by the State of Florida and assigned a school grade. The last eleven years our school has continued to maintain a grade of A. The grade is based on three factors:

1. Percentage of students meeting high standards (FSA Level 3 and above ) in reading/writing, math, and science

2. Percentage of students making learning gains in reading and math

3. Adequate progress of the lowest 25% in the school.

• MYP – Each of the eight subject areas will use MYP objectives with their MYP units, and students will be assessed using the criteria and rubrics. Each criterion will be assessed at least twice so that an MYP grade can be assigned. At this time the faculty is in the process of modifying the rubrics to make them age-appropriate. Teachers are using formative and summative assessment tasks. Departments are also defining the assessment tasks for each criterion using the IBO prescribed minimum tasks as a guideline.

• Writing progress monitoring prompts – countywide; given to students three times each year in grades 6, 7 & 8. Students respond in writing to an argumentative or informative prompt .

• Subject-Area Exams – county-wide exams administered to students in high school credit courses (Honors Spanish, Honors Algebra) at the end of each year; used to determine if students earn high school credit for the course they took in middle school – their semester grades must be an 80% or higher, and for Spanish, this exam is also averaged into their semester grade as 30% of their grade.

1. Identify students’ strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles in relation to the MYP skills, knowledge and attitudes.
2. Help students evaluate their own learning and understanding.
3. Identify what has been learned or what students are in the progress of learning.
4. Provide teachers, students, and parents with feedback on students’ progress and learning.
5. Help teachers develop effective teaching units using a variety of strategies to meet the needs of the learners.
6. Record student’s level of mastery.

• All teachers have created and use MYP units, and many have begun modifying the IB rubrics for their subject area.

• The school district is currently working with Global Scholar to create an assessment recording system that will enable us to easily record student progress and achievement on the various MYP subject-specific criterions. The program will be web-based and work alongside our current online gradebook, Pinnacle. Global Scholar will allow teachers to track student progress on MYP assessments and assist teachers in calculating students’ final achievement level of 1 – 7 in each MYP subject.


• Pre-test
• A-Z Lists
• Anticipation Guide
• Informal Playing Tests
• STAR Test
• TeenBiz Level Set Test Formative


• Observation
• Quiz
• Inquiry
• Open ended task
• Homework/practice
• Cooperative learning
• Self and peer assessment
• Reflection
• Journal Writing
• Graphic organizers
• Charts
• Practice Tests
• Worksheets
• TeenBiz
• Review Summative


• Essay
• Lab report
• Oral Presentation
• Performance
• MYP prescribed minimum task (per subject)
• Cumulative exam
• Technology based project such as brochures, flyers, posters, magazines
• Hand created project
• Short Stories
• Music Compositions
• Playing Tests (music)
• Journal writing

Special Needs Policy

School Services Information (Special Education Needs Policy)
Union Academy Magnet School

Union Academy Magnet School has one guidance counselor who counsels students and parents in addition to participating in conferences between teachers, students and parents. As part of our implementation of the MYP the counselor frequently refers to the learner profile during these counseling sessions and meetings. Students who desire counseling obtain a pass from their teacher to speak with their counselor. It is also common for teachers and parents to refer students for counseling, particularly when students experience stress at home or when their work or behavior concerns a teacher. In addition to these responsibilities they also oversee testing administration and scheduling.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program

All of the ESOL students at Union Academy Magnet School are proficient in English and receive daily English language instruction from a regular education teacher. Even though these students are not part of a pull-out program, teachers are still required to implement the state-mandated ESOL strategies in classroom instruction.

Most students are already identified once they reach middle school. The exceptions are those students enrolling with us from out of state or private school; of course, these students can be referred for placement into ESOL at any time. Our guidance counselor monitors their academic progress throughout the year. If there are concerns, an ELL Committee meeting is held to determine further academic placement or additional accommodations. Students in the ESOL program must be tested yearly until the student tests out.  ACCESS (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) test is used as the annual assessment. This test is administered between March and April. Union Academy’s ultimate goal is to meet the academic, social, and cultural needs of all our students.

504 Procedures at Union Academy Magnet School

The guidance counselor at Union Academy ensures that 504 plans are implemented and accommodations are being followed in the classroom and on standardized tests. Teachers are given copies of their students’ 504 plans at the beginning of each school year. When a student transitions from elementary to middle school, a parent meeting is held to discuss the plan and revise it as appropriate. Parents can request additional meetings at any time throughout the school year. Guidance counselors are required to monitor the plans by retaining copies of the interim progress reports and report cards. If a student is found to be struggling, additional accommodations will be implemented into their 504 plan. It is our goal to make sure that we are meeting the needs of all our students regardless of their disability.

Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Services

Exceptional Student Education services enhance the instructional program of our school by helping students who are encountering roadblocks to successful learning. These students come to us with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that is a legal document, individualized for each student, mandated by state and federal laws, and representing various exceptionalities. We implement the consultation service model, and all students are enrolled in regular education classes, being fully included in all aspects of the curriculum. Students are monitored by the ESE teacher to ensure their IEPs are being followed and accommodations are being implemented in the classroom and on standardized tests in order to give the students every opportunity to be successful.

The ESE teacher consults with the students on a monthly basis with regards to their progress and to develop interventions when needed. He works with the students to help them develop academic goals and strategies for success. These strategies include assistance and instruction in organization, study skills and agenda checks. Personal responsibility is encouraged as students are held accountable for their goals and overall progress. The ESE teacher also helps students with self-advocacy so they can take ownership of their school experience. Assistance is provided with assignments and projects as well as implementation of classroom and standardized test accommodations such as extra time, small group/individual setting, and oral presentation. Acting as a liaison between the school and home is another role of the ESE teacher, and IEP meetings, which include parents, student, and teachers, are scheduled regularly to ensure compliance. Most of all, the ESE services provided at Union Academy are designed to encourage struggling students to gain confidence to be the best they can be.

Gifted Education Services

The teacher of the gifted meets with the incoming students while they are still in the fifth grade, discussing each student with parents and current teachers. At this meeting they learn about the student’s personality, strengths, and needs, and they collaborate to identify appropriate gifted goals for the next three years. As teachers work with the students, the teacher of the gifted monitors each student’s progress related to these gifted goals, sending home quarterly progress reports and maintaining other documentation. In year three, students and parents meet together again with the teacher of the gifted from both the middle school and attending high school. At this meeting, students, parents, and teachers reflect on the experiences from the past years and discuss implications for the future. Goals for high school are also determined.