El Puente High School (CDS #10-738091030147) is an alternative high school program within the Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District. El Puente High School is one of several programs housed and operated at the Firebaugh Alternative Community Education (FACE) complex within the city of Firebaugh. It was started in 1980 to address the specific needs of 11th and 12th grade students who needed an alternative to the much larger comprehensive high school environment (Firebaugh High School). Students who choose to attend El Puente High School or who are referred by the comprehensive high school have typically fallen behind on the credits needed for a Firebaugh High School diploma. Most 11th grade students earn enough credits during their time at El Puente High School to return to Firebaugh High School for their 12th grade year, but others remain at El Puente and earn an El Puente diploma due to less credit requirements (260 credits vs. 210 credits).
Since El Puente High School received its Initial ASC/WASC accreditation in 2018, then its full six-year accreditation status in 2021, systems were developed for continuous school improvement and the need for accurate, timely data became necessary. The Schoolwide Action Plan for Continuous School Improvement that was developed as an integral component of the WASC full Self-Study report is a detailed plan with major goals (SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) articulated by action steps (strategies), how the strategies would be accomplished, timelines, person(s) responsible, fiscal support and pre-determined key performance indicators that will validate progress of action steps based on data (this plan can be found in the "Accountability/Performance Reports" link). The four major goals (aligned with the district’s LCAP) included Academic Achievement, Increase English Fluency for all ELs, Behavioral and Socio-emotional Skills Development, and College and Career Readiness. These four goals can be considered aligned with the mission and purpose of what continuation high schools should inherently offer.
In the past, El Puente High School mirrored countless other continuation high schools whose primary purpose was to recover credits by any means possible, offer a differential standard of rigor, curriculum that was not aligned with state standards, instructional practices that were not aligned with the comprehensive high school, teachers not properly credentialed in their subject matter area, not prioritize attendance and address chronic truancy through the SARB process, overuse the exclusionary disciplinary practices of suspensions and expulsions, not retain students who turn 18 years of age, and not develop a transition plan for post-secondary endeavors. In short, there was very little accountability and multiple forms of valid and relevant data were simply not necessary.
Today, El Puente High School has become highly accountable to the district, state, students, parents, and the community-at-large. With WASC accreditation and the resultant Schoolwide Action Plan for Continuous School Improvement, EPHS has A-G curriculum and coursework aligned with the comprehensive high school, membership with College Board and our student’s ability to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses through our online software, and our involvement with the California College Guidance Initiative (CCGI) that helps ensure all 6th-12th grade students have access to a systematic baseline of guidance and support as they plan, prepare, and pay for post-secondary education and training. El Puente has also placed a premium on attendance data and has expanded re-engagement practices using additional staff and more viable means of communication with parents. All of the above practices require the ability to acquire data, analyze that data, and use it to further improve EPHS’ new status as a trustworthy, high-quality institution that more and more students are now considering a “school of choice”.
The exemplary practices articulated above constitute what all continuation high schools should strive for and it started with a five-year plan in 2016 to go from an under-valued and under-resourced school that struggling students were merely “sent” to, to a viable alternative to the comprehensive high school offering all of the college and career readiness preparations, highly qualified teachers, district financial support, accreditation, and social services/mental health supports needed for a successful post-secondary transition. Through hard work and a sustained commitment from the EPHS leadership and staff, district and Board support, record completion/graduation rates, and a “re-branding” of the school in the eyes of the community, El Puente High School is enjoying a renaissance that will continue well into the future and be perceived as a valuable asset in the community should a parent’s son or daughter need the unique environment and kinds of supports an alternative placement has to offer.
Firebaugh-Las Deltas Adult School History
Firebaugh-Las Deltas Adult School (CDS# #10738091030568) was founded in 1995 in order to provide adult learners (18 years and older) with academic instruction and English language acquisition that was necessary for employment, better access to services and government agencies, pursuing the process for U.S citizenship, or a high school diploma. The program was offered at a variety of locations throughout the years, including local church facilities, until a permanent campus was developed to house all of the alternative and adult education programs. Firebaugh-Las Deltas Adult School consists of three classrooms that accommodate students in both morning and evening sessions. Courses include ESL Civic Participation, ESL Citizenship Preparation, and the High School Diploma Program where students take A-G approved courses online leading to a high school diploma. Firebaugh-Las Deltas Adult School is accredited through Accrediting Commission for Schools/ Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS/WASC).