Immersion Montgomery Recommendations

In the fall of 2016, a group of parents, educators, and community members came together to start the Immersion Montgomery initiative, a grassroots fundraising effort built on the belief that immersion/dual language education is key to preparing students to be effective and contributing bilingual citizens of our global world.

White Paper Commissioned

This group raised funds with the help of Our Voices Matter to commission a scholar in the field of education to develop a white paper outlining recommendations for MCPS to expand equitable and high-quality immersion/dual language programs in the district.

This white paper, Potential Pathways to Equitable Foreign Language Immersion and Dual Language Education in Montgomery County Public Schools responds to a previous MCPS study of Choice and Special Academic Programs (the Choice Study) submitted to the Montgomery County Board of Education by the consulting firm Metis Associates in 2016 that took a comprehensive look at special programs and magnets in MCPS.

With respect to immersion, the Choice study reported on the history, outcomes, and enrollment of foreign language immersion programs, showing that immersion education in MCPS has its roots in efforts to promote racial desegregation at the school level, and that these programs are remarkably successful at attaining superior reading and math scores in English. While the Choice report made several recommendations for immersion programs, the study did not allow for a deep dive into the best practices that should guide MCPS’ efforts to enhance and expand these programs.

Recommendations Published

The white paper draws its recommendations from a review of the empirical evidence about different kinds of programs in the field of dual language education in the U.S. today, and best practices from two districts that are applying the latest thinking to the design and implementation of dual language programs as a tool to build equity and excellence.

MCPS finds itself at an opportune time to plan the evolution of its highly sought after and successful immersion programs, and is well positioned to be a leading school district in the country in dual language/immersion education. MCPS has a progressive attitude about equity, a population of linguistically diverse students, huge demand and interest among parents, and new leadership committed to these programs.

The companion to the white paper provides a synthesis of key takeaways, including terms, empirical evidence and findings from the case studies. It also identifies immediate action steps that the board and MCPS can use to act on the white paper’s recommendations to strengthen Montgomery County’s dual language education efforts.

Justin Cummings