Adelante School Soars Through Charter Renewal

Adelante Charter School administrators were all smiles Tuesday night as boardmembers praised the staff’s report of their charter renewal petition. The school was formerly Cesar Chavez Charter School, and many of the key players — including two boardmembers — are still around to remember the “hard” renewal process four years ago that nearly shut down the K-6 school. “That is not the same school today,” said Adelante boardmember Jack Rivas, citing drastic changes in education climate.

The campus has the report card to show for it. Seventy-eight percent of 5th graders who took the state science test scored proficient. Though its Academic Performance Index (API) is relatively average at 763 points, it has increased by an average of 28 points each year over the past three years.

The sole area for improvement, boardmembers said Tuesday, is that the school must match its racial and ethnic makeup to that of entire district’s. Currently 94 percent of the 225 students enrolled are Latino, while 58.6 percent of district students are Latino.

With its 90-10 dual immersion program — the only one in the county — 90 percent of the language spoken in kindergarten and first grade is Spanish and 10 percent is English. In second grade, 80 percent of the class is taught in Spanish; 70 percent in third; and 60 percent in fourth. By fifth and sixth grade, class is half Spanish and half English.

To maximize effectiveness, administrators seek to enroll a third Spanish speakers, a third English speakers, and a third who speak both, explained Principal Juanita Hernandez, who started at the school in March 2010 just days before it got a new name and a new lease. Dual language speakers facilitate class discussion, Hernandez said, adding that incoming kindergarteners who don’t speak any Spanish are typically reading and writing in Spanish by Christmas. Trustees will approve the charter at the next board meeting.

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