Just a `flatlands’ school, you say? Think again.

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.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • jim2812

    The story of the new (interim) superintendent may distract from a very complex story that needs public light shining upon it.

    At last night’s State Administator school board meeting the second refinancing of $68 million in State debt took place. Security for the State to shift its loan from varible to a fixed rate loan was shifted from the Administration building and surrounding property to two school properties: Oakland High on Park Sheet and Internation Blvd Ceasar Chavez Education complex.

    What was not made public was how much money goes to the bankers processing these multi-million dollar loans among other details.

    Jim Mordecai

  • jim2812

    Oops. I meant to tack this statement to Katy’s piece on the New interim Superintendent announced at last night’s meeting.

  • John

    Jim, People (“bankers”) get paid for lending money and processing loans. I remember several years back when the OEA listed its office building with a local Realtor and then, after the Realtor found a buyer at OEA’s asking price, OEA decided NOT to sell. The Realtor sued OEA for his Realtor’s commission and, as I recall, was awarded something in the neighborhood of 30K. The Realtor wanted compensation for his services and didn’t forgo is right to compensation because his client happened to be a “non-profit” teachers union.

    Banks also have a rightful expectation of profit for the service they provide. For the OUSD to “shift from a variable to fixed loan” seems like a reasonable and prudent thing to do. Are you somehow suggesting that the district didn’t want it known that (evil?) bankers are making a profit for their services? Or that non-disclosure of the details at a public meeting suggests some kind of hidden district agenda?

    Let me ask you Jim, based on let’s say a two million dollar loan how much would be too much for a “bank(er)” to make off a non-profit education institution? Is making anything too much? Do you perhaps think the district was likely taken advantage of or some kind of nefarious transaction occurred between a district official and some banker?

    All I ever learned about OEA’s (down played) approximate 30K obligation to a Real Estate Agency was the pay (funded by dues deducted from teacher pay checks). But then come to think of it there were a number of other OEA transaction details over the years not openly shared by OEA with the rank and file at teacher meetings. Hmmmm I wonder.

  • http://FromAnnArbor,Michigan Doris Sperling

    Congratulations to your Principal, teachers, students, and parents for the outstanding success of your Think College Now School, You have created a wonderful model to be copied all over the country. What a terrific honor to be identified as a Califoria Distinquished School.

  • http://FromAnnArbor,Michigan Doris Sperling

    Congratulations, students of Think College Now for reading 1 million minutes after school. Wow!!!!
    That’s sensational.

    I’m so proud of you and your terrific principal.’
    Doris Sperling, retired teacher after 40 years.