Improving the achievement of English Learners is the goal of the PROMISE Initiative, a collaboration of county offices of education of San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
Participants met recently to kick off the first year of the pilot study. Principles, teachers, counselors, site team representatives and administrators gathered at the San Diego County Office of Education's North County Regional Technology Center for the "PROMISE Summer Gathering," to share and finalize each school's Action Plan for the coming year.
The pilot project, with Escondido High and Orange Glen High in the Escondido High School District the two local participants, has been in the planning and development stage for the past year and is now ready to launch.
"This is an opportunity to support our English Learner students and work toward closing the achievement gap," said Karen Rizzi, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for the Escondido Union High District
The PROMISE Initiative, (Pursuing Regional Opportunities for Mentoring, Innovation, and Success for English Learners) was created to ensure that English Learners achieve and sustain high levels of proficiency, including literacy, in English and their primary language.
"PROMISE places an intense focus on bi-literacy and multiculturalism for our students," said Donna Heath, Senior Director of English Learner Services. "I'm hoping the PROMISE model is useful for others to implement for this type of reform."
At the recent kick-off event, participating Escondido students delivered a power-point presentation on the presence of English Learners in local schools. The data students collected will be used by the Promise Initiative's participating schools in the coming months.
Heath said that staff in the English Learner Services office at the San Diego County Office of Education has "folded" the PROMISE Initiative into their individual work plans. The ultimate goal of the PROMISE approach, she said, is to ensure that English Learners achieve and sustain high levels of academic success and are prepared for the 21st century.
"We want to produce a college-going climate in all districts, so teachers and administrators have the skills and support to differentiate instruction and curriculum for all English Learner levels, including Special Education," said Heath.
A short video from "California Tomorrow," a California Department of Education video production, was shown during the meeting. The video featured the WRITE Institute as one of the recommended programs for a high-quality professional development program.
Laurie Nesrala, Coordinator of the WRITE Institute said, "I have high hopes for this project. Change is often difficult, however everyone working on this project is very dedicated and know it's in the best interest of their students."