Chilliwack school district to analyze French immersion departures

While early French immersion programs numbers are strong, a large number of senior secondary students who entered in Grade 6 aren’t staying

Why are they leaving?

That’s the question school district staff will try to answer in an attempt to better understand French immersion needs in Chilliwack. While the new early French immersion programs numbers are strong, a large number of senior secondary students who entered in Grade 6 aren’t staying in immersion through to graduation.

Assistant superintendent Rohan Arul-pragasam presented a report to the board earlier this year that outlines the dramatic drop in numbers from Grade 6 entry into the immersion program, through to graduation. He was requesting direction in following through on a more in-depth study. It isn’t hard to see the trend as they leave, but Arul-pragasam is more interested in finding out why they’re leaving.

Tracing this year’s graduating class back to Grade 6 enrollment in 2008, there were 88 students. Today, there are 58 students left in that same class. Some of the reasoning may be in location of the programs, Arul-pragasam said.

Forty kids in the 2015 grad class attended Grade 6 classes on the north side (at Little Mountain and Strathcona), and 44 attended Sardis elementary.

The following year, the 88 students dropped by three and Little Mountain lost its LFI class. All the LFI kids moved onto middle school, with a choice between Chilliwack middle on the north side, and Vedder middle on the south side. The majority (51 of the 85) chose Vedder, and the number of LFI students on the north side dropped to 34. As they moved to Grade 8, another five students left the program, two from CMS and three from Vedder. That number stayed steady through Grade 9, when the students on the north side had a very big choice to make.

With no French program at Chilliwack secondary, do they bus to Sardis secondary every day for the next three years, or quit French immersion?

The answer is somewhat in the numbers. In Grade 10, only 66 of that original 2008 class was still enrolling in French immersion.

In Grade 11, that number dropped again, to 61. This year, there are 58 students left, making up two classes in Sardis secondary.

The pattern seems to show that with immersion courses in Chilliwack, it’s all about location.

But Arul-pragasam point that without tracking each student’s path, it’s dangerous to jump to conclusions. There are many other factors at play, some of the trustees noted.

Students may want to stay with their peer groups, or just lose interest in the studies. There are those who moved away, students who struggle with the workload, or entering a trades program, or wanting to try the many elective programs at Chilliwack secondary, trustees suggested.

Still, Arul-pragasam wants to study the trend in-depth, for a few reasons. Years ago, French immersion was offered on the north side. Now that the district offers Early French Immersion, they are projecting the need to grow over the next ten years as those EFI students grow up.

The board agreed the issue needs more in-depth analysis, and are hoping to see another report from staff by this September.

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

Vanessa Dueck.
Snapshots of a Chilliwack father from his loving daughter

Father’s Day memories of special moments shared together

Rachel is a six month old Labrador retriever cross who was found at large. She is seen here at the Chilliwack SPCA on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Rachel at the Chilliwack SPCA

6-month-old puppy found at large, now at Chilliwack SPCA, needs special home

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read