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Spanish Immersion students outperform students in traditional classrooms in math and reading

Jefferson Elem. Language Immersion Program

RIGBY, Idaho - The language immersion program in the Jefferson county school district is wrapping up its first year with huge success.

Story time at Jefferson Elementary is interactive, a chance for students to practice comprehension.

As the school year begins to wrap up, first graders are able to read, write and speak in sentences.

"I have to remind myself they're babies, they're six and seven and they're speaking a second language," said Liza Ricks, the Spanish immersion teacher.

Moms Sherri Beck and Erica Price say their kids are starting to use the language at home too.

"She'll rattle off sentences in Spanish, and we don't even know what it is, but she'll translate for us," said Beck

Price, a mother of four who moved to Rigby just so her son can be in the program says she's seen first hand how beneficial a second language is.

"With my husband speaking a second language and as he's traveled and as we've traveled we've noticed other kids being raised speaking for ethan one language and we really wanted that for our children and we found it would benefit them in the business world and just in their career and home life as they grew up," said Price.

Studies have shown learning a second language can help in other subjects. This year a reading assessment showed students in the Spanish immersion program performed 19 percent higher than students in traditional classrooms, and 10 percent high for math.

"They're taught math in Spanish but they're tested in English," said principal, Eric Jensen.

The program is so popular among parents, and now that test results prove it is academically successful, the school board has decided to add a fourth kindergarten Spanish immersion classroom next school year.

Registration is full for the Spanish immersion program for next school year, but Chinese immersion spots are available at South Fork Elementary.

The program in the Jefferson County School District is so popular, other districts in east Idaho have been reaching out to them about how to start the program in their area.

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