Immersion Program Assignments and Waitlists

What Language Immersion opportunities does CPS provide?
CPS offers three dual immersion programs, each of which provides instruction in both English and a program language. These programs offer English-speakers the opportunity to acquire a second language while providing students who speak the program language to simultaneously learn in their home language while developing their English language schools.

The CPS Immersion programs are:

  • Amigos School: Spanish
  • King Open School Olá Program: Portuguese
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School Dual Immersion Program-Mandarin Chinese. Note that the King School also offers the “Ni Hao” program, which offers daily instruction in Chinese but is not an immersion program.

How does a student’s assignment category/SES affect Language Immersion Program transfers?
Immersion Programs must be balanced by the percentage of students who do and do not qualify for the Federal Free & Reduced Lunch Program.

Do students who speak the program language receive priority in school assignment at Immersion Schools or Programs?
Yes. Students whose parents/guardians choose an immersion program or school in accordance with the Controlled Choice Plan will be assigned in the following manner:

–Kindergarten/junior kindergarten assignments for the immersion school and programs will provide assignment priority to students who qualify as either program language dominant or bilingual while controlling for socio-economic status.

A. Priority will be given to students who qualify as program language dominant or bilingual. This priority will be equal to the proximity preference offered to the other schools within the school district.
B. The SES balance of the grade level must follow the Controlled Choice Policy of the Cambridge Public Schools as then in effect.

This means that students who speak the program language will receive a seat before students who do not. However, immersion schools must also follow the Controlled Choice policy, so in some cases a seat will be held open based on SES despite there being families on the waitlist who speak the program language.

C. The waitlist policy for junior kindergarten/kindergarten cohorts starting in school year 2013-2014 and continuing thereafter will reflect the assignment policy set forth above and provide assignment priority to students who speak the program language until 50% of the enrolled students are program language/bilingual students at which point the waitlist will return to the order followed by other district schools.

This means that students on the waitlist who speak the program language will continue to receive a seat before students who do not until the junior kindergarten/kindergarten cohort is comprised of 50% program language speakers and 50% English speakers. If the junior kindergarten/ kindergarten cohort of the immersion program or school is comprised of more than 50% program language speakers, then priority is not given to program language speakers, and students are assigned from the waitlist according to their Lottery random number (the ordering followed by other district schools), which means English speakers may be offered seats before program language speakers. However, immersion schools must also follow the Controlled Choice policy, so in some cases a seat will be held open based on SES despite there being families on the waitlist who speak the program language or who speak English.

How is it determined that a student is a program language speaker?
How is it determined that a student is a program language speaker?
A language test is required for all students applying for the language program as a language speaker. Depending on the age of the child, the test vary from a verbal test, to one that includes reading and writing. The testing time can range anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. All tests for grades JK-2 are done by appointment at the time of registration at the Student Registration Center. For students in grades 3 and above, testing takes place at the school level, and language proficiency is determined through a test administered at the school. The outcome of the test determines entry into the program. A registration file for the student must be created for the student before any appointments can be made either at the SRC for grades JK-2 or at the school level for grades 3 and above.

For Kindergarten Lottery registration, we advise families with children applying as a program language speaker to do so early during the January registration period. This is to provide more time for families to complete the language test. An early test will ensure that the language categorization will be done by January 31st, in time to be entered into the lottery. We do not advise waiting until the last week of registration to register as the appointment times may fill up.

Language proficiency tests to determine whether or not a child will receive bonus points as a Program Language speaker in the JK/K Lottery are administered in CPS by staff of the Department of English Language Learners Programs. The language proficiency tests assess more than language fluency. We test for receptive and productive language. As a result, the expectation for a student who is considered "bilingual" and receive Program Language bonus points is that the child demonstrate an intermediate proficiency in a language.

Since SES balance was not required at immersion programs in the past, how will it be phased in?
SES balance was required for new Kindergarten assignments starting with the Kindergarten Lottery held in January 2013. As these student cohorts move up each year, SES balance will continue to be required.

For other grade level cohorts that were out of SES balance as of School Year 2012-13, assignments and transfers will be allowed as long as they do not worsen the existing imbalance. The SES balance of each grade on October 1, 2012 established a baseline for these grades. Assignments must maintain that baseline as students move from grade to grade. Therefore transfers may occur as long as they do not worsen SES balance as established on October 1, 2012.

For example, if a grade level at an Immersion School is over-subscribed by Paid Lunch Families and a seat becomes available in the Free/Reduced Lunch category, it may only be filled by a family in the Free/Reduced Lunch assignment category. If a Paid Lunch seat opens, it may be filled either by a Paid Lunch family, maintaining the existing imbalance; or it may be filled by a Free/Reduced Lunch family, improving the SES balance of the grade. This assignment would go to the next student on the waitlist, regardless of assignment category.

Starting at the fourth grade level, students that are tested as program language dominant or bilingual may be admitted to immersion programs without consideration of SES balance; if multiple such children apply those meeting SES balance criteria will be prioritized.

For further guidance contact the Student Registration Center:
Hours: Monday - Friday | 8:30AM - 3:30PM
Tel: 617.349.6551 | Fax: 617.349.6552 | Email the SRC

Staff are available to assist you during business hours all year long, except holidays.

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