The Draper Elementary Dragons sure know a thing or two about celebrating the Lunar New Year.
In what has become a proud tradition, students this week performed Chinese songs and dances in the school’s brightly decorated gym while beaming parents looked on — the culmination of weeks of rehearsal and preparation and years of instruction in Mandarin. The school also welcomed visitors from the University of Utah's Confucius Institute who are interested in hearing from students and parents about their experience with Dual Language Immersion, a model of instruction that is catching on nationally as an effective and efficient means of achieving fluency in a non-native language.
No other state has articulated a K-16 model like that being pioneered in Utah where, if students pass an Advanced Placement exam with a score of 3 or above, they can start taking college-level courses for early college credit. Canyons’ first Spanish, French and Chinese DLI classes opened in 2009, the same year that the District was founded. The District now home to DLI programs at 19 schools — and is committed to seeing the program thrive and grow.
To meet growing demand for Spanish DLI, administrators are recommending launching two additional Spanish programs in 2020-2021. The recommendation follows a year-long review of CSD’s DLI programs undertaken by a committee of parents, teachers, administrators, principals, teacher specialists, and members of the Board of Education. The District routinely performs such reviews to maintain the quality and sustainability of all our programs.
The committee, which looked at costs, student achievement data and the results of polls taken of parents, principals, and teachers, also identified opportunities for improvement stemming from challenges the program faces due to its unusual structure.
Two committee recommendations to address these challenges will be taken under advisement before being considered again by the Board. Both aim to address declining enrollment in middle and high schools, which leads to funding constraints and hiring and staffing difficulties.
The first idea would be to centralize all middle school DLI programs and move them to Crescent View, a school building the District owns and often uses to temporarily house students whose schools are being rebuilt. Before being considered by the Board, this recommendation will be thoroughly reviewed by the District’s Long-Range Planning Committee, which is also weighing other possible uses for the Crescent View building.
A second idea is to centralize high school and college-level DLI courses, mostly at Jordan High. DLI students would remain at their existing high school and travel to Jordan for their DLI class, much like students do now for career and technical education courses at the Canyons Technical Education Center.
Any location changes, if approved by the Board after seeking further public input, likely wouldn’t take effect until 2022 or 2023 or after.
As always, the District welcomes input from parents, students and teachers. Before CSD would consider major changes to the DLI program, information would be sent to parents so they could provide feedback and plan appropriately for their families.