A top education official in the Obama administration sat in San Francisco's Marshall Elementary School cafeteria taking notes Monday as parents, teachers and administrators recited a recipe for what it takes to turn around a struggling school.
The main ingredients included quality teachers, involved parents and a supportive principal mixed perhaps with a new dual-immersion language program. Time must be allowed to let it all take hold.
It is the kind of formula federal officials would love to see in place at schools across the country. Too many schools are failing year after year with no end in sight, said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller.
Some high schools have a dropout rate of up to 40 percent, and that's no longer acceptable, he said. Meanwhile, too many students graduate from high school unprepared for college and they end up needing remedial classes at their university or college, Miller said.
"We're lying to kids," said Miller during the second stop on a two-day tour around San Francisco to meet school officials and staff, politicians and business leaders.
At Marshall, Miller was especially interested in the school's dual-immersion Spanish program.
The program combines English learners and native speakers with the goal that all students will obtain grade-level literacy and proficiency in both English and Spanish by the time they move on to middle school. The idea was embraced by the school community - a necessary component of any reform, several parents told Miller.
The school's test scores have been improving as has the school's popularity since the program started six years ago.
With pen poised, Miller asked parents, teachers and administrators in the Marshall cafeteria how they created the school's culture - one that includes open communication among all parties while raising money, giving computer workshops for parents and posting one of the highest attendance rates in the district.
Principal Peter Avila cited several factors, including having a social worker, nurse, full-time instructional support staff member and paid parent liaison on campus - mostly funded by federal stimulus dollars or the city's Proposition H school enrichment money.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
SFGate: U.S. tapping S.F. school's recipe for success
This from SFGate: