Adelante Charter School’s new executive director and principal Javier Bolívar steps up on July 1.
He is coming from Myrtle Avenue School in Lamont where he served as principal. The Lamont elementary school has a dual-language immersion program, whereas Adelante is a dual-language immersion school.
Mr. Bolívar came from his home country of Venezuela to the U.S. in 1997 to attend college. He is in his 24th year as an educator and 16th as a principal.
“My role at Adelante will ultimately be to help every child find success, and it is through the collaborative efforts of parents, staff and students that we will make it happen,” he wrote in an announcement to Adelante families. “I can’t wait to meet all of you in person and begin this journey together.”
Former director/principal David Bautista resigned for personal reasons but informed the school’s board of directors of his plan last June, giving the board time to search for a qualified candidate.
Adelante Charter has gathered attention in recent months as the Santa Barbara Unified School District begins an extensive dual-language immersion program at McKinley Elementary. The district plans to transition the school to a full DLI campus one grade level at a time, starting this fall with kindergarten.
Adelante, originally named César Estrada Chávez Charter School, was chartered in 2000 by the Santa Barbara School Board of Education.
Between 2005 and 2009, the school grew and struggled to maintain satisfactory levels of student achievement.
Community members planned a new instructional model, where students start with 90% of instruction in Spanish and 10% in English. By fifth and sixth grades, the two languages are taught 50:50.
Adelante students have received low marks on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, the state’s standardized test for grades 3-8 and 11. But Santa Barbara Unified officials have criticized the state’s assessment for emergent multilingual learners.
“When we say 65% of our students, our elementary grade students, are not meeting English-only standards on a summative assessment that’s assigned for English only speakers, you’re using a very unserved measure to determine intelligence and ability,” Dr. Hilda Maldonado, the Santa Barbara Unified superintendent, said in a board meeting March 16.
Just 19% of Adelante’s tested students met or exceeded the state’s standard in the English, language arts and literacy portion of the CAASPP in 2018-2019.
The district as a whole averaged 54% that year. Statewide, 50% of tested students made the mark.
In the math section, 27% of the school’s students tested at or above the state standard, and 45% of the district met the benchmark. Just 39% of the state met or exceeded the standard.
María Larios-Horton, Santa Barbara Unified’s executive director of diversity, equity and family engagement, told the News-Press that standardized testing would not show dual-language immersion’s success until junior high or high school.
“Our state assessment system is not yet aligned to the goals of dual-language immersion. They are still working on that,” she said. “The accountability and assessment system for California is not going to reveal the kinds of achievement that true assessment of dual-language immersion would reveal.”
The district has acknowledged that students may struggle at first in the new language but exceed expectations once they become bilingual.
“The students are carrying a double cognitive and linguistic load, which is going to slow them down a little bit, but imagine that that load is going to lighten up when they’re able to do more of that transfer from one language to another. So then they’re just going to skyrocket after that,” Ms. Larios-Horton said.
National studies echo the district’s argument. Dual-language immersion students outperformed their monolingual peers by fifth grade in a study of Portland public school students.
Despite the low scores on the state assessment, parents recommend Adelante Charter School online. The school has had a waiting list for years and a student body of 300 kids.
Students learning English make up 37.7% of Adelante’s population, according to the school’s 2019-2020 Student Accountability Report Card. And 61.7% of students are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Adelante is chartered by the Santa Barbara Unified School District but has its own board of directors.