In the recent Education Week article “Ten Lessons for Language-Immersion Programs” by Heather Singmaster, Portland Public Schools is mentioned several times, as follows (here):
Many studies, like the one recently completed by RAND of immersion programs in Portland, Oregon, show how successful these programs can be. As a result, they are steadily growing across the country. Every district should provide students with this option. One rationale that has proven to be persuasive is the economic argument—parents, administrators, and community members see the importance of learning a language for career opportunities and economic growth.
In other districts, like Portland, Oregon, experiential travel opportunities are provided in middle and high school to help students maintain their interest and fluency level in the language. Portland Public Schools is now working with the University of Oregon and a committee of immersion high school students on the Bridging Project: a second blended course option that will take a game format.
I firmly believe that immersion programs are a way to achieve equity in schools across the country—especially in places with high English Language Learner populations. The study done in Portland, Oregon found that ELL students in immersion programs learn English faster and have "a statistically significant greater chance...(to) be exited out of ELL services, than those who are not," says Michael Bacon, assistant director of dual-language programs.
And not only do immersion programs lead to higher literacy gains for all populations of students, but they also lead to global competence and an increased understanding of other cultures. This has never been more important than it is now as our country continues to grow more diverse.