Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hot topic: Up-and-coming neighborhood schools

This from a reader:
Perhaps an appropriate topic might be whether there are any neighborhood schools that people are rallying around. If enough parents on the playground decide that they're all going in to their assigned school, they seem to stand a fairly good chance of having a major demographic effect on the Kindergarten class and all subsequent classes. Are there schools where the parent buzz is 'let's all go and shift the school?' I've heard of some mom's making 'pinky promises' that they'll all go together. Are there other examples? There are certainly enough San Francisco elementary schools in neighborhoods with a strong middle class where the middle class doesn't currently send their kids there. Is it possible that the new assignment system will change that?

20 comments:

  1. Potrero Hill ParentOctober 17, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    I've heard from neighborhood parents enthusiastic about getting behind both Daniel Webster (Potrero Hill) and Junipero Serra (Bernal Heights).

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  2. Potero Hill Parent-

    Are you referring to just Daniel Webster SI or also the GE program? Just curious.

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  3. Potrero Hill ParentOctober 18, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    The GE program.

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  4. Thanks. It's refreshing to hear that the GE program is going to get some TLC.

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  5. what about harvey milk? that will be our new attendance school (but we're still 2 years away) and there seems to be so much to love, but i'm not sure there's yet that critical mass of parents rallying around it.

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  6. Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy has plenty critical mass. It is demographically a mixed school so it has a hard time matching the scores of schools with a more affluent base, and you have to be comfortable with diversity, but there are lots of great parent-led events there. Also a solid gay/lesbian parent base. It's a very loving place to be.

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  7. To the poster from Milk, most of the students in your neighborhood score in the top 20% on API tests (see link) You will have an affluent Noe Valley parent base. The school should continue to perform well, with solid API in the 800-900 range, as the neighborhood takes over the school. The diversity of the school will probably be significantly reduced by the time your kid graduates, unless it attracts significant CTIP-1's.

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/CTIP_description.pdf

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  8. "I've heard from neighborhood parents enthusiastic about getting behind both Daniel Webster (Potrero Hill) and Junipero Serra (Bernal Heights)."

    Bernal parents pushed to have JS's attendance area expanded to the south slope of Bernal Hill. I'd be very optimistic on JS's future, though it might take a few years to see the upswing.

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  9. i think glen park is on the upswing.
    moscone is a great school.

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  10. There are several schools like Cobb that have the potential to turn around in a big way, if the neighborhood goes to the school.

    What is the tipping point in practice? According to SFUSD data, in San Francisco, a school can afford maximum diversity of 30% before its test scores are statistically likely to be impacted. Every reduction in diversity down to 30% seems to be very tightly statistically correlated with an improvement in test scores.

    [Before you flame me, look at the chart on page 9 of the URL below which was commissioned by SFUSD, and which shows a correlation coefficient of r = -0.8 between diversity and CST. To be precise, I am using the same definition of diversity that SFUSD does. Also I personally believe that a school filled with only affluent diverse students would be high performing, but for the most part affluence and diversity are inversely correlated in San Francisco’s public school population.]

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/CTIP_description.pdf

    Note that diversity below 30% is not a guarantee of high test scores, although the odds are in your favor. But there is no school with diversity above 30% with CST above 370.

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  11. Back to the original question - a school like Milk is already crossing the 800 API mark, so neighborhood parents will continue to join the school.

    A school like Cobb has the neighborhood demographics to become a trophy school, but first there needs to be a critical mass of parents who can look beyond the current test scores. Once that happens, then the school will tip. From game theory, this is a kind of prisoner's dilemma. The only way to tip the school is for the neighborhood to organize and go in as a group. Otherwise the logical behavior for individuals is to try to get out of the school. If I were SFUSD I would be spending a lot of effort to try to organize these incoming parents to get them excited about their school.

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  12. I think that the main thing that the District has been doing for this is to add magnet programs, typically language immersion. In the Cobb example, they started a Montessori program there. Of course, that program got chased off the school site, primarily by the existing teaching staff that was going to be pushed out by Montessori-trained staff. (I presume the same problem would have happened with a language program.) That said, I can't really blame teachers for working to keep their jobs, but it will keep Cobb as an underperforming school for a while (mostly due to student demographics, I think).

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  13. I know I'm being a downer by saying this, but right now, if Cobb wants to attract a good chunk of its new neighborhood, the current plan isn't sufficient.

    I've got five friends in the Cobb area who've done a "pinkie-shake" of sorts, but it's not to go to Cobb. They are dividing up tours of all the schools further west and comparing notes on which ones they all like, in the (small) hope that they can all go elsewhere together.

    The Montessori fight at Cobb really scared them off. They don't think middle-class families who want to improve the school are welcome there.

    If the district wants to change that impression, it needs to do more outreach to the neighborhood about Cobb.

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  14. I think that at this point, the only way the district will get more neighborhood families to Cobb is to close it and reopen it a year later, like DeAvila. The administration and teachers are happy with the progress they're making. They're scoring around 700, which is considered a 2, with no similar schools because it's such a small school. It is improving from there though.

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  15. I doubt there is a single kid from cow hollow, pacific heights or the Marina, the bulk of the neighborhood assignment for Cobb that will attend next year. I agree that if they want to successfully raise enrollment and the test scores they need to shut it down or add a lanugage program (french?). The Montessori program push-out was absurd.

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  16. Sanchez here. Not sure how they are going to attract the new neighborhood. Changing the language program from bilingual to immersion would go a long way - seems to be a common theme.

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  17. I wish they would put spanish immersion at Sanchez, Chavez and Bryant.

    Why not - They did it at Marshall and the locals loved it and continued to sign-up en masse. I guess the problem is that these schools would be city-wide, leaving very few GE, neighborhood school options available.

    Then again - one option could be to continue to increase the magnet options in the CTIP zones. This would attract locals that otherwise would be interested in a GE program. As long as CTIP has the preference in the Student Assignment System, they would have the ability to select (and get) a nearby GE program if they desired.

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  18. Great energy amongst the parents at J Serra. The PTA is getting organized - committees etc, meetings conducted in Spanish and English. Sweet school with a committed, engaged, approachable principal. I'm a K parent and very happy; my child is thriving. J Serra was not even on my radar and I live nearby. We were 0/7 last year and assigned to the school. Just another reason that Bernal rocks.

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  19. How much does the principal contribute to the school turning around? It sounds like the JS principal is both an inspiring leader and effective administrator and educator. What are the schools where a leader is making the difference? What are schools that are being held back by poor leadership?

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  20. I just posted this to the McCoppin thread up higher, but thought it would be relevant here too:

    We are considering McCoppin, and here's what I know so far, based on the buzz at Rossi playground.

    The school has strong and improving academics, with API almost reaching the mid-800s this past year. It's got two tracks -- Cantonese bilingual and GE. The Cantonese program gets especially high marks from parents. I looked at the numbers from Round I last year, and both the CB and GE program were oversubscribed, though the CB program more so.

    The negatives I've heard is that the two school communities don't come together much, and that PTA fundraising and events are spotty. But this emergency fundraising could mean that this is turning around?

    In the surrounding neighborhood, a lot of parents on the GE side are wondering whether the PTA stuff is at a tipping point and whether jumping in for next year will provide the final tip needed. There are also a lot of parents in the New Traditions assignment area who are looking at McCoppin. The NT area starts well into the inner Richmond, and it's a huge area for a small school like NT. A lot of NT parents are thinking they are being set up by the district to be slammed into Muir, and they'd much rather go to McCoppin than Muir.

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