According to its students’ English language arts and mathematics test scores, Adelante Charter School is the third worst performing elementary school in the district. But that didn’t stop all five school boardmembers from singing the school’s praises at Tuesday’s board meeting, where Adelante Director David Bautista gave a presentation requesting a five-year renewal for the school. “I fully support Adelante School,” said Boardmember Kate Ford, whose comments echoed the sentiment of the four other boardmembers.
In addition to the renewal, which the board will vote on approving on June 25, the school is also asking for an increase in enrollment, which is currently capped at 290 students. The presentation included a video of fifth graders addressing the benefits of dual-language education and was preceded by nearly a dozen parents, students, former students, and educators discussing the impact Adelante has had on them. While the video and public comments were moving and highlighted high-achieving students, the school’s test scores painted a less-flattering picture.
Adelante, which scored above only Cleveland and McKinley elementary schools, is well aware of its low test scores, said Bautista, who urged the district to look beyond them. “SBUSD must understand the long view, or we will continue to debate test scores,” read one of Bautista’s slides. Bautista shared figures from a 10-year study by Wayne P. Thomas and Virginia P. Collier illustrating that after elementary school, dual-language students perform significantly better than their ESL peers who did not receive dual-language instruction. However, Bautista did not present any data tracking Adelante students beyond elementary school.
Adelante is largely made up of Latinx students, 84 percent, followed by 15 percent white students. About half of students at Adelante, 46 percent, are English learners. While all students performed poorly on the English language arts assessment, English learners performed the worst, falling into the lowest performance category available on the California School Dashboard scale. Hispanic students performed in the second lowest out of the five rankings. No ranking was provided for white students due to their relatively small population.
Adelante has been in the district for almost 20 years and started out as César Estrada Chávez Dual Language Immersion Charter School with two classrooms and 40 students. In 2009, the school board considered closing the school because it was consistently identified as a low-performing school in California. At the time, Adelante was the lowest performing school in the district. Since, the school has revamped its instruction model, changed leadership, and incorporated a science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics focus.