Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Immersion Schools Language Test

I'm writing this post for any of you that are considering Immersion Schools and are curious about the language test at SFUSD you can opt to have your child take.  It seems like everyone we spoke with had different answers to the same questions regarding the test.  Now having been thru the process I'm still confused. (Thank you SFUSD!)

We first wanted to know if Language abilities was a factor in the lottery.  Would we get preference if our daughter is bilingual vs. a child who only speaks English.  I don't have a definitive answer on this one. According to SFUSD's website it doesn't play a role in which school your child gets in to - at least not outright.

However, they admit they try to get the class to be 1/2 - 2/3 Native speakers (In a Spanish Immersion program this would be the kids that speak Spanish fluently), and 1/3 English speakers (Or those who are learning the targeted language).  I've been told this is the ratio that makes Immersion Programs work.  My thought here was that your child's language abilities must play a role in which school they get into.  Otherwise, what if they composed a class without this ratio and none of the kids understood and/or could translate the teachers instructions?    This would go against what they know to be a necessary ratio for a successful program.

Maybe it plays no bearing on which school your child gets in to but does effect which class they are placed in.  Perhaps there are 2 Spanish Immersion classes and they try to balance those to create the ideal ratio.  I have no idea, despite the number of people I have asked.

When we went to SFUSD to apply we filled out the language section with one question answering "Spanish", the rest were answered with "English".  I think it was "What language(s) are spoken in your home?"  We wrote "English/Spanish".  The woman said that my daughter needed to take the test to determine her abilities.  I asked, "Her english ability or her spanish ability?"  It was her Spanish ability.  I followed up with, "Could this help her get in to an Immersion program?".  She said, "Yes, it has an effect".  Ok....

We scheduled our appointment and came down to take the test.  I had heard that your child is rated on a scale from 1-5, with 5 being fluent in the target language.  This is incorrect.  Your child is either Fluent or Limited.  Those are the two outcomes of the test.  My daughter, despite 2 years of Spanish Immersion preschool, is not fluent in Spanish, atlho she does understand most instruction.  This was quickly discovered in the test and we signed a few papers and left.  (We did have to sign a paper saying we understood and accepted that instruction and materials would not be in English.  I'm not sure why they have us sign this now since we haven't actually been accepted to an Immersion program.)

Then my husband asked on the way home, "Is being in the "Limited" category the same as not having taken the test?".  Ie, Will she be placed with all the students whose parents answered the Language section on the application with just "English"?  Or are there Three categories from which they draw students - "Fluent", "Limited", and "English".  I don't know the answer to that and can't find info on SFUSD or Parents for Public Schools.  Erg!

Despite the lack of knowledge that I have I'm pleased that our application and test are done!  We begin the waiting process....which could be hard for a 'Type A' like myself but is actually a lot less stressful than touring and/or thinking about the application all the time.  It's out of my hands.  Wish us luck!

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