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Case study: Varnett Public School

by Rosetta Stone
Varnett Public School logo

Meeting diverse language needs across the school community 

Varnett Public School is an open-enrollment PreK-8 public charter district serving a diverse community in Houston, Texas. Their student body includes a high population of Emergent Bilingual (EB) English learners as well as students seeking opportunities to learn second (or third) languages. Varnett wanted a language program that could meet the needs of all students—as well as staff and parents. 

  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Grades: PreK-8
  • Number of students: ~1,100
  • Number of campuses: 3
  • District characteristics: Tuition-free public charter district with a diverse student body; whole-school Title I programs for all campuses.  
  • Languages:
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Mandarin

The challenges

Varnett serves a growing number of EB students, with nearly 60% speaking Spanish at home. EB students have various levels of English proficiency; many newcomers speak little or no English when they arrive. English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers wanted a technology program to support their learning centers in the EB pull-out program and help prepare students for the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS). At the same time, Varnett realized that many parents in their community could benefit from a program that could help them build English proficiency. 

Varnett also wanted to offer second-language opportunities for students in their Gifted & Talented program, ALPHA (Advanced Learning Programs for High Achievers). With limited resources for world language instruction, they needed a program that would support independent learning for students. 

Varnett wanted a language program that would meet the needs of both English Learners and world language students while creating opportunities for parents in the community. 

Building a community of language learners

The solution

Rosetta Stone for Schools allows Varnett to meet the needs of everyone in their school community. They began with student licenses for their EB program in 2016. By 2022, they had expanded with enough licenses for all EB and ALPHA students, as well as additional licenses for staff members interested in learning a world language and parents interested in learning English alongside their children. Monique Thornton, the Elementary Math Content Specialist at Varnett, says, “Rosetta Stone for Schools aligns with two of our core values: student achievement and parent engagement.” 

Rosetta Stone allows students (along with parents and staff members) to work on language skills independently in an environment that mimics the way people learn language naturally. EB teachers use Rosetta Stone to complement direct English instruction and provide additional individualized practice for students. Critically, it supports all four language domains (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and is aligned with the Texas English as a Second Language standards. Students can work through the program at their own pace and practice as much as they need to in order to achieve proficiency. Immediate feedback allows students to correct their errors and monitor their own progress. In addition to working on skills in the classroom, students and their parents can access the program from home on school-provided laptops or tablets or on their own mobile devices. 

Monique Thornton, Elementary Math Content Specialist at Varnett Public School

“Rosetta Stone for Schools aligns with two of our core values: student achievement and parent engagement.” 

Monique Thornton, Elementary Math Content Specialist at Varnett Public School

Rosetta Stone for Schools implementation at Varnett Public School

  • Emergent Bilingual (EB) Program: ESL teachers use Rosetta Stone for Schools as an independent learning station during pull-out instructional periods.
  • ALPHA/Gifted & Talented Program: Students in the ALPHA program can choose from three languages: Spanish, French, and Mandarin. 
  • Parent Empowerment Program: Parents have the opportunity to sign up for Rosetta Stone at no cost to the family so they can practice their English skills at home along with their children. 
Children's hands color in the the logo for Varnett Public School on large paper spread across a table

The results 

Varnett is seeing positive results for students in both the EB and ALPHA programs. 

The program accelerates English Language acquisition for EB students and helps them prepare for the TELPAS. Teachers report that students with minimal language skills at the beginning of the school year can progress to speaking and writing in full sentences in weeks and complete paragraphs by the end of the year. 

Rosetta Stone also enables the district to offer language opportunities for their ALPHA students that would not be possible otherwise. Many English-speaking students are learning Spanish to connect with their local communities. Others are stretching their language skills with Mandarin or French. Students have also compared vocabulary across different languages to find similarities. With Rosetta Stone for Schools, Varnett can meet its objective of providing a rigorous academic experience for every student.

The interactive activities keep students highly engaged and motivated. The district is excited about expanding parent access to Rosetta Stone through its Parent Empowerment Program and has been working with the Rosetta Stone team to implement best practices for parent learning.

Ingrett White-Moore, ALPHA Program Specialist at Varnett Public School

“Rosetta Stone is a great program not only for students and teachers but also to get families and the community involved. It’s a way for students to connect with each other and with parents. It’s the best program for our EB scholars.”

Ingrett White-Moore, ALPHA Program Specialist at Varnett Public School

Interested in learning more about providing a comprehensive curriculum for English language learners, world language programs, and parent engagement in your school or district? Contact us!

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