Enrollment FAQ

The MVWSD is proud to have a Spanish and English two-way immersion school. Immersion programs provide a unique educational model where children learn to think, read, write, and communicate naturally in two languages: Spanish and English. Students from many different cultural and linguistic backgrounds study together to be biliterate in both languages.

Dual Immersion Application Process:

1.  How do I know if the Dual Language Program is Right for Our Family?

The Dual Language program truly incorporates the entire family. Students learn language during the day, while parents are encouraged to learn the language by night. Children who have a love of learning and support and encouragement from home will find success in the dual language program.

The program is a good fit for families that:
  • Value other cultures--the people, art, history, etc.
  • Support learning a second language and encourage practicing the language.
  • Support and value collaborative learning.
  • Are willing to participate in school projects and activities.
  • Are willing to commit to at least 6 years of program participation.

2.   What is the Student Makeup at Gabriela Mistral?

Our program is a "two way," which means that about half of the students are native Spanish-speakers and half of the students are native English-speakers.  Every student in the classroom is a model of their native language and a learner of a second language.  This student makeup is essential for the design and success of the program.  Therefore, as a part of the lottery process, the classrooms are built at a 50:50 ratio based on language fluency.

3.     Is the application process only for Kinder students?  My child is already in a higher grade.

Ideally, students should begin the program in Kinder.  However, we occasionally have spots that open up in higher grades as well.  You may apply for 1st grade spots, with the understanding that availability changes from year to year.  In grades 2nd – 5th, applications for English Dominant students are no longer considered.  However, we do accept applications for Spanish Dominant Bilingual or students from other DI programs, as they will have enough Spanish and English to meet required levels of proficiency.  Students entering the program after Kindergarten must demonstrate literacy in the target language comparable to students in the program.

3.     My child will be a Transitional Kinder student in the fall.  Can I still apply to the Dual Language Immersion program this year?

Unfortunately, no.  The Dual Immersion program does not include a Transitional Kinder curriculum.  However, you are welcome to apply to the program next year.

4.     What happens if I don’t get into the DI program, and I want a transfer to another school.  Do I fill out another enrollment form?

No, you are only allowed to request one school/program in addition to your neighborhood school.

5.     Are there priorities for acceptance into the program?

Yes.  Student previously enrolled in the program during the prior school year have 1st priority.  Within this category, however, students who are also siblings of students already in the program are placed next.  Please refer to board policy  AR 5115  for enrollment priorities.

6.     Are there any requirements to get accepted into the program?  Are students tested to get into the program?

No, there are no requirements other than those listed as part of the enrollment process.  The only information we look at is age (to ensure that students are Kinder age) and language dominance (so that we have a balance of English and Spanish speakers in the classrooms).

7.     What are the enrollment procedures?

  • ATTEND A SCHOOL INFORMATION NIGHT: Success in an immersion program requires a long-term commitment. Whether parents speak English, Spanish, or another language, they will need to provide support to their child as he or she studies both languages. Therefore, parents are encouraged to attend a Kinder presentation meeting prior to enrolling their child.
  • ATTEND PARENT INFORMATION MEETING: Parents will listen to a presentation to assure alignment between parent goals and expectations and program goals and expectations. 
  • LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT: After students are admitted to the school by the district established lottery, a language assessment is administered in the Spring to determine their level of proficiency in Spanish or English. The language proficiency scores will be used to balance the Kinder classrooms in the fall. 

8.     What are my chances of getting into the program?

The Dual Immersion program is a very popular program.  It is critical that you complete your application within the district's open enrollment window. It is expected that we will hold a lottery for English Dominant spaces.  There is a possibility of lotteries for Spanish dominant spaces as well.

9.     How will I know if I got in the program or waitlisted ?

The district office informs families about enrollment status by a letter, which will include your waitlist number and placement.

10.  How soon will I hear back from the district after I complete all of the application requirements?

You will hear back shortly after the Open Enrollment  Window closes.  You will know then whether you have been accepted, or whether your child’s name will be placed on the waitlist.

11.  My child is an English speaker and is already reading in English.  Will this cause a problem for him in a DI program?

No, it will be an advantage.  Literacy in your child’s first language will assist him in acquiring literacy in Spanish.

12.  My child is already bilingual.  Is this a problem?

No, this is an advantage. Please mark Bilingual on the application form when you complete it.

13.  My child understands Spanish when I talk to him/her but only speaks English back to me, or to family members and friends.  Do I mark him/her as a Spanish speaker, an English speaker, or bilingual?

We need to know which language your child speaks.  You will need to mark him as a dominant English speaker, which tells us that he/she has some understanding of Spanish, but prefers to use English and is strongest in English.

14.  Does my child need to speak Spanish to get in the program?

No, we are admit both Spanish speaking students and English speaking students.  Your English-speaking child will become fluent in both languages through the program.

Program Questions:

1. How successful are these programs?

Several decades of scientifically-based research in the U.S. and Canada document that native English speakers and English Learners experience lasting cognitive, academic, linguistic, socio-cultural and economic benefits from participation in dual language programs (Peale & Lambert, 1962; Cummins, 1979; Krashen, 1983; Genesee, 1984; Willig, 1985; Cloud, Genesee & Hamayan, 2000; Thomas & Collier, 1997/2002; Lindholm Leary, 2005).

2. What is the instructional program?

  • Core content instruction in the classroom is in and through both languages.
  • The program follows the District’s core curriculum and uses state-adopted materials.
  • Grade-level CA State Standards are taught.
  • The delivery of the lessons are taught by using one language at a time.
  • Teachers are highly trained and receive continuous professional development to ensure best instructional practice.

Program Model

Grades K-2:

  • Language Arts is taught in Spanish.
  • One or two content areas are taught in English.
  • 30 minutes of English language development is provided daily, using the CA Common Core State ELD Standards.

Grade 3:

  • Formal literacy in English is introduced; Spanish literacy is maintained.
  • 30 minutes of English language development is provided daily, using the CA Common Core State ELD Standards.
  • Other content areas are taught in Spanish.

Grades 4-5:

  • Instruction is split equally between English and Spanish.
  • There is a continued emphasis on English language development and academic vocabulary. 
  • 30 minutes of English language development is provided daily, using the CA Common Core State ELD Standards.
  • Language Arts and Math continue to be addressed in both languages.
  • High academic and linguistic expectations are in place.

3. Will two languages confuse my child or slow down his/her academic progress?

There is no research to indicate this.  Research has consistently demonstrated that learning in two languages enhances academic growth. However, moving children in and out of the program should be avoided. Children gain maximum benefits from the program by remaining in it through 5th grade and then continuing into secondary.

4. Do children become frustrated listening to instruction in another language?

Some children may feel frustrated in the initial months of the program.  This is part of the learning process.  Try to be encouraging and ask for positive feedback about what they like most in school each day.

5. Will I be able to help my child with homework?

Homework is intended to be a review and practice of concepts learned in class, so they will be familiar to your child.  There may be times, however, when parents may need the help of an English/Spanish dictionary.

6. Will I have to read to my child in Spanish/English?

It is best to read to your child in the language you use at home. As your child gains more literacy skills in Spanish/English, you may ask him/her to read to you.

7. Can parents volunteer in the classroom?

Parents are strongly encouraged to be in the classroom and to volunteer when they can and in any way they can.

8. How long does this program last?  Does it go all the way through high school?

At the moment, the elementary program continues through 5th grade.

9. Do I have to speak Spanish to have my child participate?

No, you do not need to be bilingual.  However, you do need to be actively involved in your child’s education, using your home language.

10.  Why does one teacher only speak in Spanish?

The English Dominant child often comes from an environment where only one language is spoken.  One of the motivating factors for wanting to learn the second language is to be able to understand and respond back to the teacher.  If the student knows the teacher speaks English, this important motivating factor may be diminished.  Our Spanish Dominant students in an English Dominant culture have many other motivating factors moving them to learn English.  In fact, they begin using English early on, particularly if they attend an English-speaking preschool.  The challenge for our Spanish Dominant students is maintaining their first language, while learning the second.  The consistency of hearing only Spanish in the classroom supports this maintenance.

11.  My child already speaks Spanish.  Why would I enroll him in this program?

We are finding that many of our students who learned to speak in Spanish begin to lose their Spanish once they enter Pre-School or Kinder.  Their friends are speaking English, many have older siblings who are now speaking English, all the instruction is in English in the classroom, and English is all around them.  They use Spanish less and less at home and even though they may understand what is said to them, they respond in English.  Eventually, for many, Spanish is lost.  This program ensures that our children who have Spanish as their first language maintain that language.  We believe that no child should have to lose a language to gain a language.

Benefits for Native Spanish speakers

The research on Dual Immersion Programs in the United States demonstrates that native speakers of other languages can indeed attain grade level proficiencies in both languages and in turn, close the performance gap between themselves and their English speaking counterparts.  Research also indicates that English Learners have a higher rate of success in DI Education vs English-only Mainstream programs because students have maximum access to the curriculum.  The following research studies indicate:

  • Students in DI  programs also have a unique opportunity to develop literacy and academic skills in both their native language and English in a culturally-validating setting. (Genesee and Lindholm-Leary, 2009)
  • Native Spanish Speakers (NSS) have a more positive self-concept and are more likely to remain in school, graduate from high school and attend college as compared to English Learners in English mainstream classes (Thomas and Collier 2002)
  • English Learners who enter high school reclassified to fluent status and are able to fully participate in college-bound schedules and courses and develop a college-going mindset (Lindholm-Leary, Promise Initiative, 2012).
  • Native Spanish Speakers continue to stay connected with their families by developing their mother tongue as well as learning English in school.