Language Immersion Programs in OUSD

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Melrose Leadership & Manzanita SEED

    (1 reply)


    Thanks for taking the time to read this.  We're moving to Oakland in July.  Our kiddo is entering 2nd grade and has been attending 90/10 Spanish Immersion since PreK.  His native language is English (at home) but he has attained Spanish fluency over the past 3+ years.  We've taken the time to read through the older posts about the OUSD Spanish Immersion programs at the various schools.  We're single digits on the waitlist for both MLA and Manzanita (and Greenleaf).  We would love to hear some thoughts from some parents out there who are currently attending any of the three schools and why you would or wouldn't recommend attending them.  We've taken the OUSD Spanish proficiency assessment so we're good to go there.  Would also be curious about the waitlist experience over the past year or two.  I know the current system is new-ish but some days it feels like we're waiting to find out whether or not we got into Harvard!! =p

    Thanks in advance!

    Welcome (soon) to Oakland! My son is soon to be a first grader at Greenleaf. We're also currently waitlisted (again) at Melrose. I can share some about our experience with waitlists and with Greenleaf.

    Waitlists: last year for kindergarten we were waitlisted for Greenleaf. I think somewhere in the upper teens or low twenties to begin with. We were offered a spot pretty early on in the summer. We are not in the neighborhood and had nothing to bump us up the list. Melrose last year we were in the thirties, move up a bit but not significantly. This year for first grade there we were 11 and are now 9. I'm guessing we won't get in but we'll see.

    We have had a mixed but over all positive experience at Greenleaf this last crazy year. I think this next year will be even better with a return to in person school. My son is fluent in Spanish and English and had done Spanish preschool. Most of the kids at Greenleaf are bilingual to begin with and live in the neighborhood around the school. Our teacher was excellent and creative. She obviously loves what she does. The other families, from what we could tell online, are committed to learning and supporting their kids. This is no small feat when doing zoom kindergarten. When in person school resumed my child really struggled with classroom expectations. He is high energy, resistant to change and smart. His teacher and the other school staff really came along beside us, have several really productive and helpful meetings. I was impressed with how well they all seemed to understand him, their creative ideas for addressing what was happening and their commitment to making school a positive, nurturing experience for my kid. The only negative, which may be the confluence of the pandemic and the principal being out parental leave, was that communication from the school was really poor. We often got information very late or in part. Trying to juggle multiple kids and work that was really difficult. I'm hopeful that some of that will be ironed when we return to campus and a more regular school year.

    I would recommend Greenleaf. We've been happy there so far. I think my kid is being taught well, nurtured and welcomed. We're on the waitlist for Melrose again because it's within walking distance of our house, but I'll be happy with our kid remaining there.

    Just on a side note, if you're looking for another Spanish immersion school to get on the waitlist for International Community School seems great. The only reason we didn't put that at the top of our list was that is only goes through 5th grade. But I was really, really impressed with them when I toured (more than Greenleaf). You might want to check them out too.

  • Spanish language Assessment for OUSD

    (2 replies)

    We are hoping our child will be in kindergarten at one of OUSD's Spanish immersion schools in the fall. Has anyone gone through the Spanish language assessment for Melrose and Manzanita Seed? Our kid is fluent in both languages. They say it won't affect placement but that doesn't seem right as there would be two pools of students and one might have better odds? I'm very confused about whether it makes sense to have him evaluated or if it wouldn't matter or would hurt or improve his odds? Anyone know more about how this works or been through it?

    It is also my understanding that a child's chances of getting into Melrose and Manzanita SEED are higher if they are found to be "Spanish proficient".  I think what you're being told is that not testing does not exclude your child from potentially getting in but they're not telling you (or not telling you clearly) that the chances may be different.  I have not honestly seen the numbers to back up my understanding, and I guess OUSD doesn't really know either until everyone puts in their lottery requests and completes assessments.

    About the assessment... I don't know how your son will react, but my son refused to talk in Spanish or English the first time we tried an assessment.  We didn't make a big deal of it, but we tried again a couple weeks later (at our nhood school that he was familiar with, and we framed the assessment as going to playtime at the school) and he did great.  



    From Lubia Sanchez (OUSD's Multilingual Pathways Coordinator, also in charge of the assessments):

    *the sign-up link for assessments is still valid

    Thank you for your interest in Dual Language at Melrose Leadership Academy, Greenleaf and Manzanita SEED.   Appointments for Spanish Assessment are now available.   
    This optional assessment does not determine program entry, but instead designates whether your child will be placed in the “Spanish proficient” or “not Spanish proficient” placement pools. From there, regular lottery rules will be applied.  
    There are 2 components to the Spanish Language assessment:  0ne-on-one interview to assess Speaking and a computer-based Listening Comprehension portion.  Combined, the assessments will take approximately 35 minutes to complete.        
    Since this optional assessment does not impact your child’s opportunity to join the Dual Language community, we urge you to evaluate the degree to which your child has had a consistent Spanish -speaking environment and whether the assessment experience will pose undue stress on your child. For many very young children, this testing process will be completely new and may be emotionally challenging for students who are not Spanish proficient at this time.     
    To move forward with Spanish assessment, please click here to sign up.   

    This is only the second year that Spanish language assessments are being conducted, and I don't have first-hand experience with the process. They were instituted to remedy the problem of having predominantly English-speaking children because the dual-immersion schools are intended to have 50% native Spanish-speaking children. Because they are fewer applications from Spanish-speaking families, it is an advantage to apply as a Spanish speaker.

Parent Reviews

There are a couple of great options with Oakland Unified!  Some of which we decided to put on our list for our current kindergartener. OUSD has a list on their website: We chose to live in Oakland in part because of the likelihood our kids could do bilingual public education.

I think Melrose Leadership Academy is most people's favorite. It does not have a neighborhood to draw from and so there's no way to guarantee your child will go there. It runs through 8th grade. We've put it #1 on our list for two years now.

Manzanita Seed is also popular. When I toured there two years ago I liked it but wasn't in love. It went #4 on our list. I think that it often has a long waitlist. I'm not sure if everyone in the neighborhood can go there if they want or not.

At the time we were doing the lottery for kindergarten we were in boundary for International Community School and I loved it when I toured it. I think it's kind of a secret diamond, though is starting to get more interest from families who aren't able to get into Melrose or Manzanita. Last I checked only about 50% of the students come from the neighborhood, and so you could live elsewhere and try to get a spot from the lottery if you don't like the neighborhood. The principle who gave us the tour was friendly and professional. She obviously new the kids and the community well. There was a lot of flexibility in the classroom- different seating options, etc. They just got a new playground and have gotten a lot of grants for other improvements- a librarian and library for example. It would have definitely been #1 on our list except that we wanted our kids speaking Spanish through middle school, so it was #3 for us.

The school was was #2 on our list and that we ended up at is Greenleaf. It is currently bilingual up to 3 or 4 grade but each year they add a grade. Eventually it will be Spanish bilingual through 8th. It was a failing school that was closed down and restarted with community input and has improved a lot since then. When they asked what people wanted they told the district a bilingual program. Most of the kids live in the in-boundary neighborhood but we didn't. We were first on the waitlist (12 I think) and got called during the summer. When I toured I liked it; it seemed well run and like a good school but I didn't love it as much as ICS. But the building is just as nice and they also have a library. We've been mostly happy there, though it's been a weird year to start kindergarten. Since we've been online we've not connected as much to the school. But my child's teacher is excellent. They are trying to build school community with special online events. They are fairly good at communicating with parents.

For preschool all my kids have gone to Colibri Preschool in Oakland, and it's awesome. I can't say enough great things about it- both pre and post-Covid. Since it's a private preschool there's no way to make sure you'll have a spot there. It has 2-4 year olds.

Oakland Unified has seven elementary schools with dual immersion (Spanish-English) programs. Middle-class families have flocked to Melrose Leadership Academy in recent years and many people seem to think that is the only program in the district, but that is incorrect (10-15 years ago middle-class families flocked to Manzanita SEED). More information and a full list of schools is here - If you listed only schools with dual immersion programs on your Options form you would definitely get into one of them (and several are wonderful but chronically underenrolled programs). San Leandro Unified also has a dual immersion (Spanish-English) program at Washington Elementary. None of these schools have "good" scores on Greatschools because they don't have great test scores (partly because test scores typically lag for dual-immersion students and partly because they enroll a high proportion of low-income students and test scores are always correlated with socio-economic status). That doesn't mean that they are not amazing school communities providing quality education - and they are absolutely worth exploring.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Sept 2013

Re: Spanish Immersion In Berkeley and Oakland

You didn't say whether you were looking for preschool for right now, or looking ahead toward kindergarten. For preschool, I'd recommend any of the several Kidsland home-based daycare/preschools (mostly located in S. Berkeley, but also w/locations in San Leandro).

If you are looking ahead toward kindergarten plus, Oakland Unified School District offers dual-immersion Spanish/English in several of its public schools, including Melrose Leadership Academy, Manzanita Seed, Community United, Global Family School, and Esperanza Elementary. I chose Esperanza for my son this year, and have been impressed thus far w/the level of caring & commitment amongst the teachers, admin, and after school staff. All of the Spanish language arts teachers are native speakers. There are some of the usual public school issues (class sizes larger than ideal in some grades, for instance), but for an Oakland public school, I'd say they make a dedicated contribution to the community. Parent who switched from private to public