As the Palo Alto school district likely faces a debate in the new school year over the future of its world-language programs, new survey data offers insight into how students, teachers and parents overlap and differ on the subject.
While Palo Alto parents and teachers are supportive of bringing traditional, non-immersion foreign language instruction into the district’s 13 elementary schools, students would prefer additional immersion programs in new languages, according to just-released surveys conducted by Hanover Research Group, a firm the district commissioned this year to evaluate its K-12 world-language programs.
Hanover polled 2,657 high school students; 2,780 parents, mostly of elementary school students; 166 high school teachers and administrators and 371 elementary and middle school teachers and administrators. Each group received a survey tailored to relevant experiences and interests, though many surveys had overlapping questions.
The results indicate broad support for the district’s two immersion programs: Spanish, which has long been offered at Escondido Elementary School, and Mandarin, which began at Ohlone Elementary School in 2008. Ninety-two percent of immersion students and 93 percent of immersion parents said they were glad they (or their children, respectively) participated in an immersion program.
“By starting at an early age, it was easy to adapt,” one student wrote.
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