Over the next two years, more student-centered programs will be implemented, district officials said. Madelena Arellano, the district’s director of student achievement, English learner program, said there are plans to implement the WRITE program at Baldwin Park High School. The program is used at the Escondido Union High School District and involves teaching the same material to students in English and then Spanish. Arellano said that teaching the requirements in both languages help students to better understand the material. Arellano said the PROMISE initiative has encouraged officials to take a more critical look at each student’s data. Factors to consider include looking at how long students been in the country and why they are still considered English learners. The six-county initiative is critical piece of reform because it focuses solely on this population, Spiegel-Coleman added. Many state-sponsored initiatives focus on every child, but English Learners need more attention as the achievement gap grows between this group and fluent English speakers, Gustafson said. “We are not saying there is a magic bullet, but PROMISE creates a road map and we want success for all of our student,” she said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2108160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “We don’t want them to lose their own language,” she said. Organizers are seeking financial support for the initiative and have applied for various state and federal grants, and a delegation visited Washington to talk with local political leaders to secure additional funding. On average, it takes about five years for an English learner to be considered fluent in the language. Students have to pass a battery of exams including the California Standards Test and California English Language Development Test. The school districts involved in the pilot study share ideas, teaching practices, research and also visit school sites to observe programs in classroom – a virtual classroom, said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, senior project director for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Baldwin Park’s first year has focused on teacher training at the elementary school, and the district is looking to open a dual-language preschool at Heath Elementary, which allows for students to have some familiarity with English and Spanish when they enter kindergarten. BALDWIN PARK – Three schools in Baldwin Park Unified are near the end of the first year of a three-year pilot project to help improve proficiency and achievement of students whose first language is not English. Baldwin Park in 2006 was chosen to participate in the PROMISE Initiative, a collaboration between Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties and 15 schools, including Baldwin Park’s Health Elementary, Holland Middle and Baldwin Park High School. Southern California is home to nearly 65 percent of the state’s English learners; the six counties involved have more than 1 million English learners, according to Jan Gustafson, director of PROMISE. Baldwin Park has 6,752 English learner K-12 students. Such a large student population motivates school officials to find new methods to help this population not only become fluent English speakers – but also to remain fluent in their native language, Gustafson said.