Spanish Immersion

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The Spanish Immersion Program is an academically challenging and enriching program for developing linguistic proficiency in Spanish and English. Students enter the program in kindergarten and continue through fifth grade at Harney Elementary School. Spanish Immersion instruction continues with a focus on literacy at McLoughlin Middle School.

Students throughout Vancouver Public Schools may apply.

At the kindergarten and first-grade levels, approximately 90 percent of instruction will be in Spanish and 10 percent will be in English to facilitate early Spanish language acquisition and literacy development.

As students transition to higher grades at the elementary level, more of the instruction shifts to English, so that in the upper grades there will be 50/50 Spanish/English instruction. At the middle school level, students receive two periods of instruction in Spanish.

  • Obtain high levels of achievement in all academic subjects
  • Achieve true bilingualism and biliteracy of participating students
  • Foster and promote cultural diversity and respect among all students
  • Harney Elementary’s Spanish Immersion Program provides learning opportunities for students to become culturally competent world citizens capable of using, appreciating and developing academic and social languages in both Spanish and English.
  • El programa de inmersión de Harney provee oportunidades de aprendizaje para que los estudiantes sean ciudadanos mundiales, capaces de usar, apreciar y desarrollar lenguaje académico y social en español e inglés.
To ensure achievement and success for students in the Spanish Immersion Program, it is necessary for families to commit to the program for a minimum of six years (kindergarten through fifth grade). Active parent support is extremely important to the long-term success of the program.
  • Bilingual students generally demonstrate academic gains. Research shows that students in language immersion programs typically develop strong academic skills in addition to becoming proficient in both languages.
  • Students have the opportunity to achieve true bilingualism and biliteracy in Spanish and English. Students learn languages more easily at an early age. Immersing and instructing students in a second language provides an effective vehicle for students to learn to speak read, and write fluently in both languages by fifth grade.
  • Students develop cultural literacy as well as enhanced cognitive skills. Language immersion students benefit from the ability to communicate with people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. They also typically experience academic achievement at or above their single-language peers. Research covering more than 40 years of language immersion instruction shows that students receive a variety of cognitive benefits such as mental flexibility, nonverbal problem-solving abilities and enhanced critical thinking skills.
Interested families must complete and submit an application for their child. Applications for kindergarten will be available at Harney Elementary and online. Applications must be submitted to Harney Elementary by the deadline to be entered into the lottery. (If there are more applicants than spaces in the program, students will be selected through a lottery process.)

Students residing within the school boundaries of Harney Elementary will be placed in the first lottery drawing. The second drawing will be for students outside of the school boundary, but within the Vancouver Public Schools’ boundaries. The third drawing will be for students outside of Vancouver Public Schools (per district regulations). All applicants will be notified of the lottery outcome.

Parents of students outside of school boundaries who are selected for this program will be required to provide their own transportation to and from school.

Once students are admitted to the program, they will have continued placement in the program each year without having to reapply. Annual renewal of boundary exceptions for students living outside Harney boundries is required.

Siblings of students admitted to the program are not guaranteed placement in the program, nor are they given preference on a waiting list based on their sibling’s admission to the program. Parents may apply for a boundary exception for a sibling to attend Harney Elementary. Regular boundary exception policies apply (Regulation 5115, sections II–V).


Lucy Estrada-Guzman, principalHarney Elementary School
3212 E. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661
Travis Boeh, principalMcLoughlin Middle School
5802 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98661
Alison Watson Resource coordinator

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