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Immersion so popular in Scottsdale “it is no longer feasible to offer non-immersion”

April 28, 2013
Spanish-immersion class at Pueblo Elementary in Scottsdale

State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal visits teacher Angela Saldarriaga’s Spanish-immersion class at Pueblo Elementary in Scottsdale on Friday, April 19, 2013.

Michael Schennum/The Republic
By Mary Beth Faller
The Republic | azcentral.comThu Apr 25, 2013 8:17 AM

Along with science and technology, schools nationwide have been pressed to add more world-language instruction to better prepare students for the global marketplace.

The U.S. State Department has helped to fund programs in languages it deems critical to national security, including Mandarin and Arabic, and last fall, the U.S. Department of Education for the first time produced a strategy to improve international education.

Many school districts, including Scottsdale, see world-language programs as a way to draw students. Last month, the district decided to transition Pueblo Elementary School into an all-immersion school, meaning that eventually, all the students in Grades preschool through 5 will spend half the day learning in Spanish.

Principal Art Velarde said the immersion program has proven so popular that it was no longer feasible to offer a non-immersion program.

“I only had 12 students in the conventional strand for kindergarten next year, and eight of those were there because they hoped to gain admission to the immersion program the next year,” Velarde said.

Other immersion programs are in the Cave Creek and Deer Valley unified school districts, where they’ve also proved to be big draws. In Cave Creek, overall kindergarten enrollment fell by about 20 percent for this school year when the district began charging tuition for the afternoon session, but the Spanish-immersion kindergarten at Desert Willow Elementary School had a waiting list.

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