Sunday, October 5, 2008

K Files Council: 1st Grade Lottery

Our child had to enroll in kindergarten this year. We were very interested in language immersion, so we included two language immersion kindergarten programs in our list of 7, along with two neighborhood schools and a few others we liked. In the end, we were assigned to our neighborhood school. We like the school very much and are grateful to have gotten one of our seven when so many other people did not. Nevertheless, we'd still like to expose our child to another language. Our child has been attending Saturday classes in another language, so we were wondering whether we might try one last time to get him into an immersion program, since presumably the Saturday classes would prevent our child from being too far behind potential classmates.

Our question for the K Files Council is:
Can we submit a FIRST GRADE lottery request next year for our child for our favorite immersion program? If so, would this jeopardize our child's current spot in the neighborhood school? Clearly, this will depend on a kindergarten child not advancing to the 1st grade at the immersion school because they've either left the school or moved out of the district. Does this happen very much? Is it even worth the effort?


  1. It is definitely worth a shot. There are so many advantages to being bilingual beyond the ability to speak a language.

    You didn't say how many hours a week your child is taking language classes (One hour on Saturdays or six?) or what language (Mandarin? Cantonese? Spanish?).

    But unless you speak the language at home as well or find other opportunities for exposure beyond the Saturday lessons, your child will be *very* behind his peers in the language. After all, they will have been getting 25 to 30 hours a week of immersion.

  2. At Jose Ortega, I believe that we had two new first graders who came from English-speaking kindergartens. I think they might have taken Mandarin over the summer.

  3. I know a family who did that with Buena Vista, with no special tutoring. The child caught up fine.

  4. we will likely be doing the exact same thing as the poster (minus any special classes or anything): applying to immersion (again) as EO first grade applicants (since we lost our spot at flynn imms).

    my concern is less around catching up -- in denial about this one -- and more about tactics. in K, i would never have risked not being in the top waitpool cohort by not putting 7 choices. but 1st grade is a different matter; it doesn't make sense to "start over" -- if you're applying then, it's because you're still trying to gain (or regain, in our case) a particular situation, a particular school.

    but you risk much by not putting 7 choices. if you don't get in in round I, you're in a bad position, yes?

    also: as previous poster said, we're also thinking about the fact that we have to apply in january, only months into our experience at (non-immersion) school #1. what if our feelings change come march/june/july? it's very tough.

    any advice appreciated.

  5. Question poster here. Thanks, Kate, for posting our question. Our child has been taking 4 hours of language classes every weekend, and the language is spoken in the home, as well.

    Our #1 concern is about losing our current spot, if we apply again. As I mentioned, we love our general education school, and we wouldn't consider applying for 1st grade immersion program admission, if that put our current situation at risk.

    We've consulted the EPC website, but haven't been able to find anything that explains whether we run the risk of losing our current slot by applying.

    Also, Kim Green's questions is an excellent one. Would we be better off listing seven schools, even though we are interested in only one?

  6. if you get placed, do you HAVE to take the spot? or can you stay in your origianl kindergarten school?

    i would like to pressure the district to make it clear and upfront -

    1. how many 1st graders have registered to return in fall
    2. then, how many spots will actually be open for english speakers vs. spanish speakers.

    there is no reason not to ask parents to register for the following year in december 2008.

    otherwise, we are going to be visiting the schools' offices regularly digging for rumors of who is staying and going as we try to decide what to list.


  7. A lot of people move over the summer, and the district doesn't know until the student doesn't show up at school the next year. The only spaces available would be from students who left mid-year.

    A lot of movement in first grade and above happens after the 10-day count. You just have to be psychologically prepared for that.

  8. I believe the district says that if you get the spot you "must" take it. But of course you would be applying only for a spot that you want, so that shouldn't be a problem. However, I don't believe the district can un-enroll you from anything -- whether they wanted to or not -- without your compliance.

  9. In my experience, people who are enrolled in one school and apply for a different school but don't get it are "reassigned" to their original school. This is what happened when I switched my son from a middle school to a K-8. The first letters said he could continue to attend his original school. I didn't get the assignment for him for the new school until August.

  10. I changed my son's school after 1st grade. When we got our school of choice, we were still enrolled at our school until I accepted the new school.

  11. "However, I don't believe the district can un-enroll you from anything -- whether they wanted to or not -- without your compliance."

    I'll bet Kim Green (and the other Flynnardos) are getting a kick out of that. Sorry -- I know I shouldn't joke, but that sort of jumped out at me.

    I'm surprised that SFUSD's website doesn't have anything on this, but this really strikes me as the type of question that should be answered by someone at the District or Parents for Public Schools. This thread is excellent for info like 10:01's comment (thanks, btw -- we'll be in that situation next year, and I don't know how we'll cope emotionally with that one). But I would want something more "official" re the actual policy before I risked giving up a choice assignment by applying for an immersion 1st grade.

  12. I called PPS and asked them this exact question when we did the lottery for our daughter for 1st grade. I was told that if you enroll at the new school you lose your spot. I think that you do have to enroll, however. If you don't enroll you don't get switched. But now I am vague on it - PPS would definitely know. Ask them.

  13. You definitely should get in touch with the district and Parents for Public Schools with this question. Here's a link to the PPS Web site:

  14. "At Jose Ortega, I believe that we had two new first graders who came from English-speaking kindergartens. I think they might have taken Mandarin over the summer."

    Yeah, but that class was severely underenrolled (9 kids!), being the first Mandarin immersion class at JO.

    Smart choice by those parents who applied in K or 1st grade, though: that class will remain at 11 or less until 5th grade.

  15. I asked Shem at the EPC this question a few months ago. He said that yes, you do loose your spot in your current school if you get one of your lottery choices (but you keep it if you don't).

    I agree with Kim, that this makes it much more difficult to put down 7 choices than for the K lottery. It also puts us at a disadvantage with private school parents, who can put down 7 choices without fear of loosing their school.

    I would like to try to organize a group of us to approach the EPC and district about getting the policy changed in light of the fact that so many of us didn't get anything on our original list this year and also to make it equitable for public school vs. private school families entering the system.

    Anyone want to try to join in?

    Any ideas about how to approach this?

  16. Our daughter started in a 1st grade language immersion program after completing Kindergarten at another school, and is doing very well picking up the language and does not seem to be disadvantaged in any way for not having been part of the Kindergarten class. We did do some Saturday classes over the Summer, as well as a two-week camp, but I think she would have done fine without them. The best part was getting to meet some of her classmates before the 1st day of school.

  17. Kim Green alerted me to this dialogue and requested that I respond. I had asked them a similar question last year but I thought it was worth going back and double checking. Following is my question and Archie's response.

    QUESTION. If you are currently in a Kindergarten class and you go into the assignment system for 1st grade for the next year will you automatically loose your spot at your current school if you get one of your choices before you register at your new assigned school? Put another way, can you choose to stay in your current school and decline the assignment offer at the new school by not enrolling?


    * Unfortunately families do not have that option. Families are required to register at the school they received as a requested choice.
    * If a family changes their mind they would have to waitlist to get back into their current school.
    * Keep in mind that the SAS is always evaluating for space capacity. When one student leaves their current school a new student is enrolled.
    * In some isolated cases we have been able to place students back, because no other students were placed in the runs.

  18. So to answer the original question, which was:

    Can we submit a FIRST GRADE lottery request next year for our child for our favorite immersion program? If so, would this jeopardize our child's current spot in the neighborhood school?

    No, participating does not jeopardize your current spot, but winning your request does.

    Obviously you have nothing to worry about if you really want to switch and you put down only the school you want to switch to. But you can't have two schools in hand and then decided what to do.

  19. Greetings from the person who posted the original question. Thank you to you all for the information and personal stories.

    Just want to make certain I understand the consensus opinion of the wise K Files Council:

    If we ARE offered a spot in the 1st grade immersion program we desire, then we WOULD lose our position in our current general education school.

    If we ARE NOT offered a spot in the 1st grade immersion program, then we could stay in our current school.

    One last worry that to ties in to Kim's question. We would likely put down ONLY the immersion program(s) we desire, which would mean a list that did NOT have 7 schools. We would do this because we would not want to end up being forced to leave our much loved general education program for yet another non-immersion school.
    Could the EPC assign us a to an unlisted school, as they did for some people this year, and then we'd still lose our current spot?

  20. So if you "win" the spot, you are automatically disenrolled from your current school? Wouldn't you have to go down to school or EPC and accept assignment before they change you from your current school?

    If this is the case, then no reason to put down any school you do not really want. You can still waitlist if you do not get the immersion in 1st round or 2nd round, correct or no?

  21. This seems like a fair system, except for the fact that many of the spaces that open up in 1st grade open later than Round I, so which cohort you are in really matters.

    It might be fair, in my opinion, if it didn't privilege applicants from private schools, who could decline their assignments and still keep the spot in their current school.

    Is anyone interested in trying to change this?

  22. Since we ended up in private, we will apply for a public 1st grade spot and not worry about our current assignment being taken away from us.

    My question is, do we play the lottery the same way we did for a Kinder spot? 7 choices, and the same waitlist and cohort process?


  23. 10:53am

    i'm interested in approaching EPC. we are entering the lottery for 1st grade, as we went private for Kinder.

    keep in mind that we *did* get offered schools, so we can't say that we didn't get anything....

  24. Does anyone have any info/advice about the 1st grade lottery?