It’s every k-12 education reporter’s favorite time of year: test score day! (I meant to post this earlier, but after sorting my 27th spreadsheet, my mind was rendered temporarily useless.)
Do you want to see how your school did last school year? You can find a spreadsheet with multiple tabs (East Bay, Oakland, and Oakland sorted by API score and growth) here. If you want to see it in print, we’re running a big chart listing the API scores and No Child Left Behind status of all the schools in our area in tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) paper. Here is a link to the California Department of Education’s website.
For my story on No Child Left Behind, I talked to two Oakland principals — Marco Franco, of Sobrante Park, and Charles Wilson, of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy — about their experiences with Program Improvement, a status that is shared by more schools each year as the student proficiency standards get tougher. (By 2014, all students are supposed to reach proficiency in reading and math, as the federal law is currently written.)
Franco was at Sobrante Park when it successfully exited Program Improvement five years ago; now the school is back in. He’s preparing for a second round of school improvement efforts and hopes his school will eventually see some of the funding that allowed his school to do things it can no longer afford (before-school intervention, librarian, literacy coach, another classroom teaching position).
Franco said he blamed himself for the ways in which his school fell short — for not “plugging all the holes,” as he put it. But, he said, even before he learned the Program Improvement news, he and his teaching staff had come up with a plan — and undergone training — to change how it taught its kids to read and write.
“We have to change,” he said. “Our school will turn around next year. You’ll see.”
Wilson, principal of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy, a small elementary school on East Oakland’s Stonehurst campus, was reveling in his school’s dramatic test score gains. “It is absolutely an amazing, amazing experience,” he said. “It’s validation that some of the choices that we made, that made our lives a little bit harder, were worth it.”
Korematsu was one of just five schools in Alameda County and 85 statewide to do get out of Program Improvement this year. In Contra Costa County, none did. The school made a 103-point gain on the state’s 800-point Academic Performance Index, bringing its score to 788 out of a possible 1,000 points. Most of his students are English learners, and nearly all live in poverty.
“Our kids are not failures,” Wilson said. “They don’t need to be labeled failures. So we were going to do everything possible to remove that name.”
In reading last year, the school moved 22 percent (about half) of its students out of the lowest two rungs of the test score ladder — below basic and far below basic. Even if those students didn’t yet demonstrate proficiency, he said, that shift is significant because “the kid has the basic skills to do the work at grade level.”
Other Oakland schools that said goodbye to PI: Brookfield Elementary, Howard Elementary, Rise Community (elementary).
Schools entering Program Improvement this year: Aspire Millsmont, Community United, East Oakland PRIDE, Grass Valley, Learning without Limits, Prescott, Sankofa, Sobrante Park, West Oakland Middle School, Lionel Wilson College Prep, Life Academy, Metwest.
How do you think NCLB should be revamped? Do you think California should apply for a federal waiver in the meantime, even if it means adopting reforms promoted by the U.S. Department of Education? (OK, maybe that’s not a fair question, since we don’t know yet what those reforms are…)
Here’s the letter California’s superintendent of public instruction sent to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the subject.