August 24, 2010 (San Francisco) – Today the California State Board of Education authorized a grant of $45 million to the San Francisco Unified School District to address the needs of ten San Francisco schools identified by the State of California as “persistently low performing schools.”
The district applied for the federal funds through a competitive grant process which required the selection of one of four turn-around models and a detailed reform plan for each of the schools. The district’s application received one of the highest possible ranks from the State.
The proposed strategies to turn around the achievement for students represent a comprehensive approach, which includes taking the following steps at schools that are designated as either turnaround or transformation schools:
* Require a rigorous common core curriculum that clearly specifies what students should know and be able to do and sets high standards for rigor and instructional quality.
* Provide professional development on proven instructional strategies that is job-embedded and features one-on-one coaching.
* Institute a performance management system that ensures a data-driven approach to instruction and professional learning using common interim assessments and other evidence of student learning, as well as research-based strategies, to improve teacher practice.
* Focus on adolescent literacy needs in secondary schools and reading instruction in the primary grades.
* Provide the foundations for mathematic excellence in elementary school through partnering mathematicians with teachers in classrooms and ensure that all students can access algebra successfully in middle school.
* Create an academic culture conducive to learning that enables teachers and administrators to concentrate on rigorous instruction and student engagement.
* Create a college-going culture in all secondary schools.
* Extend learning time for students both after school and during the summer.
* Increase parent and community engagement that builds family involvement by integrating and coordinating the many services in the San Francisco community.
* Implement a full-service, community schools approach that encourages partnerships with local agencies to support both students and their families.
To better understand the needs and challenges of identified schools and the district as a whole, SFUSD leaders worked in partnership with university colleagues to understand how other schools and districts have beat the odds for low performing students. A new study, “Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago” (Bryk, 2010), helped shape the district’s process for identifying critical school interventions and supports. The district’s proposal was also based on the input shared by school principals about their continued improvement efforts and the kinds of supports most needed in their schools. District staff and community partners also held meetings with parents and teachers to describe the grant requirements and the implications of the federally-defined reform models.
Ten schools were named by the state as “persistently low performing” and the district included all schools in the SFUSD proposal:
School State Model
Willie Brown, Jr. Academic College Preparatory * Closure
Bryant Elementary Turnaround
Dr. George W. Carver Elementary Turnaround
Cesar Chavez Elementary Transformation
Everett Middle Turnaround
Horace Mann Middle Transformation
Mission High Transformation
John Muir Elementary Turnaround
John O'Connell School of Technology High Transformation
Paul Revere Elementary Transformation
*Willie Brown, Jr. Academic College Preparatory School is closing at the end of school year 2010-2011 in order to build a state of the art facility. The school is eligible for up to $50,000 and, if granted, funding will go to support a parent/community outreach coordinator to assist families in transitioning to new schools.
Deputy Superintendent for Instruction, Innovation and Social Justice Richard Carranza says that the district is well positioned to use the funding to drastically accelerate the academic achievement of students in these schools. The solutions proposed to remedy the problems of low-performing schools are part of district-wide reform that is underway.
“In carrying out the vision of our strategic plan,” says Carranza, “we are redesigning the way our central office delivers support to schools. All schools will be provided with more guidance about curriculum, and our resources and support services will be focused more on the needs of the district’s lowest performing schools through our Superintendent’s Zones.”
This year San Francisco Unified formed Superintendent’s Zones in the Bayview and Mission districts, where nine of the ten schools identified as low-performing are located. The tenth school in the Western Addition will be part of the Mission zone. Schools in the new zones have more than double the dedicated resources that other schools have to bolster student achievement, including intensive support for teachers and principals at zone schools.