Celebrating a Charter on the Rise: Voices College-Bound Language Academy in San José

December 19, 2012

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Recently, CCSA visited Voices College-Bound Language Academy to talk with Frances Teso, the school's founding principal and we left truly inspired. Voices is nurturing the talents that English Learners bring with them to school and demonstrating that San José's achievement gap can be closed.

Located in East San José, Voices offers Dual Language Education to all of its students. In the early grades, both English and Spanish speaking students learn mostly in Spanish. Then, instruction transitions to English. Like their peers in many other countries around the world, students will leave Voices with the highly marketable skill of fluency in at least two languages.

In addition to valuing students' home language and culture, Voices teachers emphasizes the importance of college for every student from day one and are working hard to close the achievement gap. In 2010-11, 77% of Voices students qualified for free or reduced lunch. In that year, the school achieved a Similar Schools Rank of 9 and an API of 839. This year, their API climbed to 859--making Voices the highest-performing dual immersion charter school in Santa Clara County.

In San José, where the city and County Office of Education have set a common goal of closing the achievement gap by 2020, Voices is clearly illustrating just how this can be done. The community thinks so, too - with outreach based solely on word-of-mouth, the school has a waiting list of over 300 students.

Ms. Teso says that when it comes to educating historically underserved students, "there is no more time for excuses. We now know what to do and how to do it. The real question is whether we are willing to do it."

Alicia Gallegos Fambrini, Regional Director, Santa Clara County

Kristen McCaw, School Development Manager, Northern California

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