Think College Now is located smack dab in the middle of Fruitvale, on International Boulevard, in the flatlands of East Oakland. Many of the public elementary school’s students are immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, 18 percent are African-American, and more than half are learning English.
Lincoln Elementary School is in downtown Oakland, in the heart of Chinatown. Many of its students also come from immigrant families and are learning English. The majority of its English learners are native Cantonese speakers. More than 80 percent come from low-income families.
But the California Department of Education honored Think College Now and Lincoln today for outstanding academic performance, along with their higher-altitude neighbor, Hillcrest.
The three Oakland schools were among 343 public elementaries in the state to be named California Distinguished Schools, a recognition based largely on test scores (although, as one district staffer duly noted, the evaluation process did include school visits and a “narrative” submission.)
Think College Now has an API score of 781, just 19 points shy of the statewide target, up some 60 points from the year before. Lincoln scored an 899 out of a 1,000 possible points. Hillcrest, the top-scoring public elementary school in Oakland, netted a 961.
“It’s so good for Oakland,” said Caroline Yee, Lincoln’s principal. “Oakland has so much potential.” She added, “Everybody’s talking about reform, reform reform, but here are three schools that are doing it.”
It should be little surprise that all three schools are in high demand in their neighborhoods. Lincoln is practically bursting at the seams, and Think College Now ranked among the hills schools last year (I haven’t seen this year’s data) in popularity. And I probably don’t need to revisit the overcrowding at Hillcrest, and the 20-some neighborhood families who were turned away this year.
While we’re on the subject of high-scoring flatlands schools, Jorge Lopez’s Oakland Charter Academy, a charter middle school also located in Fruitvale, was nominated last fall for the National Blue Ribbon Award, which goes to the top public and private schools in the country. It has an API of 896.
The American Indian Public Charter School, in the Laurel neighborhood, has a 950, the highest score in Oakland.