In a welcoming move, the St. Louis Language Immersion School has started its new French program for the older students who were earlier unable to perceive as being turned away due to the age limit from the bilingual program.
Having allowed the students to enroll in kindergarten or first grade with the objective of dual language proficiency by middle school, St. Louis offers half-day immersion programs in Spanish, Chinese and French. To address the declining enrolment, the institution will open its French program next fall to 20 students in second through fifth grades to learn the language at a rapid pace along with the core subjects in English before eventually joining their classmates in the immersion classrooms.
Meghan Hill, the superintendent said, “This is a really exciting opportunity for us to increase our overall school enrollment, strengthen our French program and most importantly serve more families in St. Louis city.”
St. Louis Language Immersion School opened in 2009 and steadily grew to 916 students with a long waiting list in the school year of 2014-2015. The early projections called for 4,800 students and a new high school by 2024.
The leaders struggled in striking the balance between the pressure to raise test scores and full language immersion, during the recent years of administrative turnover.
The last spring results reflected that around 30% of students tested proficient in English, above the 20% in St. Louis Public Schools however was below the state average of 43%.
SLPS and other independent charter schools compete for a dwindling number of students with the decline in enrolment posing a challenge for schools across the city. With more than 2700 kids leaving the city schools over the past three years, the pandemic has added to the fallout.