Likelihood of my child getting in to a dual immersion program

Hi - I'm considering a move to Berkeley, and one important factor is the chance of getting my kid (currently 2) into a Spanish dual immersion language program for Kindergarten. It looks like there are two programs in zones (Rosa Parks and Cragmont) and one district-wide school (Mendez) that have Spanish immersion for English speakers. Is that correct? Is there any info about the chances of getting in, like number of applicants per spot? I know they must be competitive, but how competitive? Thanks!

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There is currently only 1 district-wide campus at Sylvia Mendez. 

If your kids speak Spanish then the chances of the getting in are good. If your kids do not speak Spanish then the chances are extremely low. I think less than 10%. The classes are 1/2 non-Spanish speakers. Siblings have priority. So, the exact number of spots varies year to year based on the number of siblings. 

Hi! I think the district moved all the elementary TWI to Sylvia Mendez a few years back.

Sylvia Mendez enrollment is district-wide on a lottery basis. When you fill out the enrollment forms for kindergarten in January, you can check a box to enter your child's name into the lottery. Checking the box doesn't affect their chances for other schools if you don't get into Sylvia Mendez. Because they try to balance out Spanish speaking families and English speaking families, your chances are slim if you are an English speaking household. However, there's no harm in checking the lottery box, and you could try putting your child on the wait list if you don't get it on the first try.


Good luck to you on your move. There is only one dual immersion, or as the district calls it, two-way immersion (TWI) program and that is at Sylvia Mendez Elementary in South Berkeley. They phased out the programs at Rosa Parks and Cragmont a couple of years ago, and are currently phasing out the bilingual program at Thousand Oaks. I only have anecdotal information on how hard it is to get in from other parents (we transferred in with a 1st grader and our then third grader got a spot two weeks into the school year). I would ask the BUSD admissions office if they have these statistics. I do believe that there are many more English only applicants than Spanish only or bilingual ones. If you can expose your child to as much Spanish as possible in the next two years, it may help.

There is only a dual immersion program at Sylvia Mendez.  I believe as a family with bilingual or English speaking parents you have about a 1:10 chance of getting a space.  If you have a monolingual Spanish speaking parent, chances are you will get in.  It is an amazing program.  

I work in the district and even I can't find out things like number of applicants, sadly. What I do know is that the programs at Rosa Parks and Cragmont are being phased out and Sylvia Mendez will have the only immersion program soon. It is pretty competitive, but of the people I know who have applied, I would say maybe half have gotten in. So not completely impossible. Feel free to email me if you have further questions.

Hi - Mom of two kids here. One graduated from Sylvia Mendez a few years ago (then called LeConte) and a current 4th grader at Sylvia Mendez. The info you have is outdated.  The only dual immersion program that exists is at Sylvia Mendez.  The other programs at other sites were phased out and all were consolidated at SM a few years ago.  In terms of your question, there are 3 kindergarten classes of 20 kids each which means there are 60 incoming kinders each year at SM.  Ideally in the dual immersion model, half of those kids should be Spanish dominant and half should be English dominant.  I assume your kid does not speak Spanish based on your post. If that is the case, your kid is competing for one of 30 spots.  My understanding (through the grapevine, not because I am in any official capacity to know this) is that there are several hundred kids who are applying to those 30 spots.  Also, keep in mind that little siblings get priority in the process so you can assume maybe 5 of those 30 spots will go to little siblings.  So, your kid is actually trying to get one of about 25 spots, along with a couple hundred other kids. So yeah, unfortunately, it is very difficult to get in.  If your kid is a Spanish-speaker, the odds are better.  

The Spanish Dual Immersion program used to be at 3 elementary schools - Rosa Park, Cragmont, and LeConte.  Each of the three schools had one dual-immersion class per grade.  Six years ago, the program was consolidated to be only at LeConte (renamed Sylvia Mendez about a year ago). Mendez is now the only immersion school within Berkeley Unified. I don't have the current number for the likelihood of getting in, but I know that if your child is a native Spanish speaker, their chances of getting in is significantly higher. The reason is that the immersion program aims to have half native speakers and half non-native speakers. Since the number of native speakers applying to the program is much lower than non-native speakers, their chances of their getting in is therefore much higher.

Hi. The only Spanish Immersion program in Berkeley Public Schools currently is at Sylvia Mendez. It's a great program, however, it's totally up to chance whether you get in. The odds are better if your child already speaks Spanish. The classes are 50/50 Spanish-/English-speaking kids and there are three kindergarten classes with around 24 kids each. So, figure 36 spots for English-speakers and 36 spots for Spanish-speakers each year, in the entire school district. My daughter was one of the lucky ones picked at random and just started Kindergarten there last week. If your kid is only two currently, start Spanish now (if you haven't already) and maybe you can get one of the Spanish speaking spots?

The odds are certainly tough. I agree with the last comment that you should think about Spanish lessons. My kids are taking lessons to give them a better chance for another school. Though I know this isn't for everyone due to costs, so I would also look at other options because even if your kid puts in a lot of effort with Spanish, it's still probably no better than 50/50.

My kids go to group classes in Albany once a week, and also once a week they each take a 1-on-1 lesson online to give them the speaking practice they need. For that we've used two Spanish tutors on Lingoci. But probably face-to-face group classes would be better for you given your kid is only two.