Adelante Charter School of Santa Barbara — formerly César Chávez Charter School — has been awarded a nearly $1 million School Improvement Grant that will help boost student achievement, especially among those who are academically most at risk.

English language arts and mathematics are the focus of improvement to be realized with the $953,000 grant awarded by the federal government.

ACS Principal Juanita Hernández said that while many schools had to adjust their proposals to match reduced awards, “we applied (for the SIG) and received our entire request.”

The charter school’s award reflects momentum to meet key performance benchmarks. Hernández, along with the staff, community and Board of Directors, have championed efforts to overturn previously weak API test scores. Last year’s score increased significantly by 30 points under fresh leadership.

Adelante has incorporated a proven two-way immersion teaching methodology in which native Spanish speakers and native English speakers are educated side by side in both languages. Better reading and math instruction and higher achievement in English learners will be accomplished through instructional materials to supplement and enhance the curriculum, as well as further professional development of teachers. Over the current year, 2012 and 2013, the SIG monies will also go toward improved parental involvement, extended learning and technology.

For example, Hernández explained, computers for the Family Center and adult training classes will be added. Before- and after-school and summer activities for students will further create a community for learning.

Adelante, which means “going forward,” embodies the attitude of teachers, parents and students alike to fulfill their mission of developing biliterate, multicultural students whose strong academic and cultural foundations prepare them to meaningful participate and provide leadership in their community and the world.

— Juanita Hernandez is principal at Adelante Charter School of Santa Barbara.