REGARDING SEGREGATION AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
SAN FRANCISCO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
compiled and edited by Kathy Emery
. . . .the district does not appear willing to confront just how bad things are, and insists—in spite of all evidence to the contrary—that the [achievement] gap is narrowing. As we demonstrate below, this is simply not the case. (pp. 1-2 in Consent Decree Monitor's Proof)
What follows in this page are selected quotations from each of the documents listed below as well as some information on Dream Schools. These quotations from the Conest Decree Monitor and Grand Jury reports illustrate how problematic high-stakes testing reform has been in San Francisco. You may want to consult (1) a brief background paper desribing the history of SFUSD and the Consent degree and (2) information on how problematic test scores are before going on to the information below.
No. 21 – 2003-2004 Paragraph 44 Independent Review,
September 28, 2004
Stuart Biegel, Consent Decree Monitor for the State of California
In light of our findings over the past eight-year-period, we have concluded that the current student assignment plan should be modified immediately . . . it has clearly not furthered either the racial and ethnic desegregation goals or the academic achievement goals of the [Consent] Decree . . . resegregation has continued unabated, and a dramatic achievement gap has persisted in spite of the programs put in place to improve educational quality and student performance. Indeed, we have found that the efforts of SFUSD educators to address this gap continue to be impeded by the resegregation that has emerged. (from intro on p. 1)
Under the Decree, this desegregation is designed to play a central role in improving educational quality by equalizing access, furthering diversity, and giving effect to every child’s right to equal educational opportunity . . . [fn5 It has now been over three years since the District adopted and implemented the 2001 student assignment plan and over six years since the student assignment plan that had been in place from 1983 to 1999 was modified to remove race as a factor.] p. 5
We found that schools which have been most successful at closing the persistent achievement gap are ones that have maintained substantially racially and ethnically diverse student populations p. 6
Our previous three 2004 reports have documented at great length the parameters of a dramatic achievement gap, both within the district and in certain instances between the district and other urban districts in the state . . . the patterns identified in our earlier 2004 reports show no signs of abating p. 7
. . . while SFUSD overall scored higher on the state API base than any of these other urban districts, the African American students in SFUSD have the worst API score when compared with their African American counterparts in these other districts.p. 7
But we have not limited our analysis to test scores alone. Indeed, we continue to emphasize the necessity of looking at a range of objective and subjective data in this context. P. 8
. . . Overall African American student GPA, for example, has remained virtually unchanged over the past 4 years . . . we have recently found a growing attendance gap between African American high school students and other students in the District [italics original, bold added]
The suspension rate for African American students increased over the past year to the highest point since we began monitoring in 1997
We continue to find that the administrative burden of disproportionate special education placement on principals at low performing, resegregating schools limits the ability of school site educators to effect positive change. . . .14 out of the 24 resegregating and low-performing schools identified in Report #20 have actually shown increases in their special ed percentages. .. . .remain disproportionately high. . . p. 9 When principals at schools that are already low performing are also faced with disproportionately high special ed numbers, their ability to even find the time to take the steps necessary to tackle academic achievement issues is severely impacted. P. 10
Model schools listed in march 2004 supplemental report [from p 10 of march 2004 report: Clarendon, Moscone, Carver, Mckinley, AF Yu, Lilienthal, Rooftop, Lincoln, Gateway, Washington, Leadership, Wallenberg, Burton] . . . we continue to urge all relevant parties to seek to build on those successes p. 11.– (closing achievement gap with regard to their percentages of students scoring at proficient or above on CST)
In june 2004, the SF Civil Grand Jury released a report focusing on the importance of what can be done to better provide for [students at-risk] at the District’s County Community Schools. The findings in our most recent reports are consistent with the findings of the Grand Jury.
But we have found, in this era of disproportionate focus on standardized test scores, the realities of what might be going on in an individual student’s life are not addressed. The only inquiry—particularly in the larger middle schools and high schools—too often becomes which students are scoring poorly on these tests, and which worksheets and exercises they should be assigned to increase those scores. Too often, even with the best of intentions, little or no time is expended to find out what is happening in the child’s life that is leading to lower achievement. We . . . continue to urge the District—as we have in the past –to increase efforts to bring in more school social workers and community volunteers that can assist with this process. P. 12
Within school segregation--4 types:
We urge the District and all relevant parties to keep the issue of within-school segregation, and particularly the separation of student of color into special day classes, at the forefront of any and all education reform plans. P.17
The Failure of the Current Student Assignment Plan – needs to be changed ASAP
# of Severely resegregated schools (projected)
# of Severely resegregated schools (actual)
The six “diversity index criteria,” as set forth in the 2001 Settlement Agreement, include (1) SES (2) academic achievement status of student (3) mother’s educational background, (4) language status of student (5) academic performance index ranking of sending school, and (6) home language.
Among the questions that have been raised regarding these factors are the following:
Why use both language status of student and home language? They are arguably so similar that the use of both skews the results. . . .If “mother’s educational background” is being used as a measure of family literacy, how valid is this measure across the range of groups and cultures represented in San Francisco? If 50% (elementary), 72% (middle) and 6 our of 13 basic high school had projected enrolments of 60% low SES or more for Fall 2003 . . . is the current method of measuring SES the appropriate one? Might it not be . . . more appropriate [to] identify only the families that are experiencing a significantly greater degree of poverty? Why has the “geographical diversity” factor, reference in the Settlement Agreement of 2001, never been included? P. 20
District has made some strides, increasing the Latino certificated staff representation by 69% and the Chinese American certificated staff representation by 30% between 1984 and 2000. But he number had originally been so low at the time that there is still a long way to go. And African American certificated staff representation has declined slightly during this same time. P. 28
As reported over time, we find that the District has never come close to meeting the goals of [having the percentage of staff of each ethnicities reflect the percentage of students in each ethnicity] p. 29Professional Development
In 2002, we found that an additional need had emerged: the need to educate school site administrators and classroom teachers regarding the purpose of the Consent Decree. As veteran SFUSD educators with an intimate knowledge of the Consent Decree retire, the district’s institutional memory in this area has become dimmer. We urged veteran district officials to make plans to educate key leaders at both the central office and at local school sites on the history of the Consent Decree, its basic principles, and its ongoing goals. . . . we continue to find that a significant percentage of District educators know very little about the Consent Decree and are unfamiliar with the nature and extent of the Decree’s goals. . . .we continue to be concerned . . . about the small number of mandatory professional development activities . . and—in particular—the cutbacks in mandatory teacher professional development during this era. pp. 30-1Extracurricular Activities
We echo our finding in Report #20, documenting the educational benefits and need for more physical education courses, and the interface between physical education and extra-curricular, interscholastic athletic programs. P. 32Discipline - Suspensions
For the past two years, the number of suspensions has increase dramatically throughout the district. . . . The continuing surge in suspensions resulted this year from an increase in middle school and elementary schools suspensions with a slight decrease in high school suspensions. . . The District has examined the events of last fall, but that the District has given no evidence of remedying the identified issue [last-minute student placements to lower performing high schools] p. 33
We remain particularly concerned about the racial and ethnic disparities that must be addressed . . disparities that we have reported every year. We continue to find that African American student are being suspended in numbers that are vastly disproportionate to their representation in district classrooms . . . African American are 14.1% of student pop and receive 53.5% of all suspensions, up from 51.6% last year. P. 35 (this is worse than national average! P.36)
37.3% of suspended African American students are special education students
African American students comprise 63.2% of all the special education suspensions
African American students are 31.6% of special education population
31.6% of all students suspended in SFUSD this past year were Special Education students – why?? P. 36
Discipline – Expulsions
Numbers of African American dropped [because placed in county community schools?]
Each year for the past six years the monitoring team has reported a similar picture of little or no progress [re suspensions] p 37
We recognize that the disproportionate percentage of African Americans suspended and expelled is a national problem, but the percentages are significantly worse in SF than they are in the US as a whole. . . We also find that current policies and procedures are not making a dent in these patterns, and we urge the District to try different approaches at this point in time. . . p. 38
improvement – Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Korean Americans and Whites
no improvement – Other non white, Filipino Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and African Americans [African American remaining below 2.0] p. 40
Particularly troubling are African American GPA’s at Burton, Mission, O’Connell and Washington p. 41Number of AP classes offered
While the number of AP classes at Lowell continues to increase dramatically (from 54 to 74 from 2001 to 2004) the picture is not as positive in many of the other District high Schools. Most have remained about the same, gaining a few classes or losing a few classes. P.42
Credit should be given in this context, however, to Mission High School, for its thorough and ongoing efforts to create new, top quality AP programs . . .since 2001 from 6 to 10.
BUT . . . Marshall has gone form 16 to 6. . .
Every time we visit Washington, we observe that its AP classes are comprised almost entirely of Asian Pacific American students, while its special education classes are comprised disproportionately of very large percentages of African American students. P. 43
Red flags: 28.8% of African American at Marshall attended 91-100% of their classes in 2000, but dropped to only 14.3% in 2004. Latinos at Marshall dropped form 33.5% to only 13.9% in 2004. [huge disparities at Washington as well] p. 46
RESPONSE OF CONSENT DECREE MONITOR TO THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S OFFER OF PROOF, JULY 23, 2004
We commend the district for its forthrightness in acknowledging the existence of resegregation . . . less forthright, however, is he District’s section on academic achievement. While acknowledging the existence of an achievement gap, the district does not appear willing to confront just how bad things are, and insists—in spite of all evidence to the contrary—that the gap is narrowing. As we demonstrate below, this is simply not the case. PP 1-2
Indeed, in spite of current efforts by dedicated educators of good faith and good will, resegregation continues unabated, the African American GPA over a four-year period has not improved, the balkanisation of the District’s high schools is only increasing, the attendance gap on the basis of race and ethnicity has widened, the number of schools at the lowest rank of “1” on the academic performance index has increased, and SFUSD African American student performance is worse than their counterparts in other cities on three major indicators . . In addition, SFUSD tests a lower percentage of its African Americans than any other of these major urban districts, and thus the actual parameters of the achievement gap may be even worse than is reflected in current scores.
We urge the court to maintain judicial oversight beyond the current targeted end date of December 31, 2005 to ensure that concrete change does indeed occur.
The achievement gap within the District is perhaps best reflected in an analysis of performance by the major high schools on the API index over time. Addressing this issue in our July 2001 Annual Report, we wrote:
“…SFUSD school performance continues to reflect a widening gap between the “haves” and “have-nots.” Particularly noticeable at the high school level at this point in time is a subtle but widely recognized system that has effectively sorted student into schools according to their current achievement levels. The school-by-school profile includes one exceptional high school (Lowell), four other highly successful high schools (Lincoln, SOTA, Wallenberg, and Washington), four mid-range, working high schools (Burton, Galileo, ISA and Thurgood Marshall), and four extremely low performing high schools (Balboa, McAteer, Mission, and O’Connell) .. “ Report #18 at Page 1
Three years late, an examination of all these schools and their performance on the API rankings since the system was first implemented by the State reveals little or no progress in that regard. The high schools that were performing well five years ago continue to perform well. The high schools that were at the mid-range five years ago are still at the mid-range, and the low-performing high schools remain low-performing, with the exception of McAteer, which was closed. The balkanisation described three years ago between the “haves” and the “have-nots” continues unabated, exacerbated by the resegregation and the persistent achievement gap between and among racial and ethnic groups. P. 7
[The district has claimed that 80% of the schools have met their growth targets] but many of those schools remain among the lowest performing in the City and the State, including Burbank, Gloria Davis, Franklin, Maxwell, and Everett. All these are highly troubled middle schools that either remain at a “1” on the API or have dropped to a “1” on the API this past year. Meeting their growth target has not change these realities. And it is no indication of any progress toward closing the achievement gap.
The District cites an increase in the 2002-3 “API Growth score” for African American students, which is of course a welcome indicator. However, it must be noted that this score was updated five months later . . . as a result of this correction, the 556 score for SFUSD African Americans cited by the District, when updated with the more current data, actually dropped to 542, the lowest for African Americans among major districts in the State. P. 10
The District presents new evidence of a very small increase in the percentage of students scoring at “proficient or above” in each of the last two years on the CST ELA. Yet in each of the categories represented the gap has actually widened. From 01 to 02, the District improved by 3%, but the African American and Latinos each improved only 1% [etc] . . . by the district’s own evidence, the gap is widening, not narrowing. (In addition, it must be noted that these increases are so small in three of the six categories presented as to amount to virtually no change at all) p.. 11
Fn 21 We note, as well, that no matched scores are being presented by the District in this context, and that there is therefore no evidence that the scored “below basic” in previous years are now scoring at “basic or above.”
San Francisco Grand Jury Report: County Community Schools: Poor Stepchildren of the San Francisco Unified School District, Released June 2004
Summary of Recommendations
No information at all about CCS on SFUSD website! Only written reference to them in
Enrolment Guide: Excellence for All, 2004/05 on page 79: “. . . provides an educational program for pupils in grades 6—12 that are expelled from a school district, referred for dropout prevention, and pupils who are on juvenile probation. . . . smaller classes . . support services…” p. 1
[CCS] appears to be the poorest-funded educational program for the poorest students—fiscally poor and educationally poor . . . four campuses and nine community sites (not including court schools) . . .One thing these “schools” have in common is that they are staffed by wonderfully caring people many of whom work under pitiful conditions to salvage the city/county’s least acknowledged, least motivated, least successful children. . .
All CCS are linked to available wrap-around services provided by community-based organizations and made available to any student willing to accept them. The problem is that these services may be available as seldom as one day a week or once a month or almost never. . . .
With the impending retirement of several older teachers, CCS one-room schools may be in jeopardy . . . there is no plan yet in place to address [the fact that newer teachers only teach a major and minor subject, not all subjects] p. 2
CCS funding: $93,679,984
[the grand jury] found it nearly impossible to determine exactly how CCS funds are allotted and why there appears to be a significant discrepancy in the per student amounts apportioned for CCS students and the amounts actually used [original emphasis]. The Grand Jury committee also discovered that SF County could apply for a more rigorous alternative, Community Day Schools, a state program that requires a longer school day, has more classes, gives vocational training, and offers more services. In order to make these improvements, participating counties receive additional state funding. P. 3
FINDINGS [Required response of Supt, board, mayor and supervisors from 60-90 days]
The more things change, the more they stay
the same: The City and county of SF and the SFUSD are failing to address the
educational needs of the bayview hunters point community.
Report of the 2003-04 Civil Grand Jury for the City and County of San Francisco
The Civil Grand Jury found that SFUSD and the City of SF do NOT “provide each student with an equal opportunity” in Bayview Hunters Point, largely due to the lack of basic educational infrastructure in this community.
To achieve the goals of the Diversity Index boundary lines were drawn in specific BVHP blocks and assigning children within these boundaries to schools outside their neighborhood. While this program enable SFUSD to achieve its diversity goals over 75% of the children in K-8 grades are required to attend schools outside their home neighborhood. The percentage of high school students is even greater.
As of January 2003, the current racial makeup of BVHP has changed greatly from 1980, when the African American population was of 70 percent. The CGJ believes that the current system of racial diversity in SFUSD is outdated and that, finally, the children of BVHP can have quality schools in their own neighborhood. Interestingly, given the racial mix of BVHP the desired diversity goals could have been met within this district and without requiring the wholesale bussing of children if an investment had been made to construct new facilities or renovate existing ones. As a matter of record there has been no significant investments made in local educational facilities in BVHP in recent years.
A 1999 study conducted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) revealed that African-Americans in SF received 254% more rejections than whites when they asked for mortgage loans.
BVHP has been the target of systematic institutional neglect since the early 1940s. The City of SF has failed to invest significantly in this community for over 60 years..
1.1 only one high school in BVHP – Marshall—and it is designated as an open-enrollment school available to students from all city districts. Of the 1005 seats available in Marshall, 335 students are from BVHP.
1.2 As of Sept 2003, 1523 or 79.8% of high school students in this neighborhood travel to get an education;; 34% travel more than 2 to 3 hours.. This community is unique in that almost its entire high school population must leave the neighborhood to attend school.
1.3 38% of high school students in BVHP drop out of school before senior year.
1.4 The BVHP region has the lowest ratio of school seats to student population of any SF school district.
1.7 African American are 14.7% of the SFUSD population, but they make up 38.9% of enrolment in the County Schools
2. Lack of Planning for Additional Educational resources for BVHP students
1600 housing units planned for Parcel A of Hunters Point shipyard to be finished by 2006 with the prediction that 1037 students will come to reside in BVHP between 2006-10 – no planning is being done to accommodate the children of those households.
3. Lack of outreach for BVHP’s most challenged students: will they be left behind?
In BVHP’s existing schools, as many as 80% of the children qualified for free or reduced-cost lunch programs. But 20-30% of the eligible students do not return appropriate documentation and, therefore, are denied free or reduced-cost lunches, lack of parental support being cited in most cases. Children in these target Dream Schools have to have a “signed parental participation contract” in order to attend the converted Dream Schools next fall. CGJ interviews with staff in these schools produced information that the same 20-30% of the children who’s parents aren’t signing up for free/reduced cost lunches are also not doing the paperwork necessary to enrol their children in the new Dream Schools. These are the children who will be left behind—the ones who most need a Dream School. . . .a number of [these] parents are incarcerated or are drug users. . . .The CGJ could find no specific plan for relocation of these children.
The CGJ realizes that it is most likely that test scores for these schools will greatly improve, but accomplishing improvement by replacing lower performing students only improves the SFUSD’s overall test scores and fails to address the needs of children most in want.
Staff interviews in BVHP schools found that there is little outreach, via mail, telephone or home visits, to insure that students’ caretakers understand Dream Schools and can make enlightened decisions as to whether or not to enrol their children. Being transferred out of their schools due to a lack of custodial response is hardly fair to the children.
The CGJ holds the opinion that repurposing an existing BVHP school into a Dream School has little effect on the lack of educational resources in the BVHP region. . . . does not change the fact that BVHP will continue to have the lowest ratio of school seats to student population of any SF school district.
Regarding Dream Schools
Phase I -- of a planned 15 around the city –Drew Elementary, Twenty-First Century Academy, Gloria R. Davis Middle School. (to be a high school).
Phase II -- Sanchez Elementary, Everett Middle School, John O'Connell High, Paul Revere Elementary, Ben Franklin Middle School, Enola Maxwell Middle School, Treasure Island School.
Dream schools - op-ed
(600 word maximum) submitted to SF Chronicle September 2005
By Kathy Emery
As the San Francisco Unified School District forges ahead this Fall in its implementation of Phase II Dreams Schools, one wonders why the Superintendent failed to incorporate what participants learned from Phase I? Just as the Bush administration failed to respond to the warnings of the New Orleans’ levee engineers, Ackerman and her staff have failed to respond to those most intimately and thus expertly involved in the roll out of the Phase I Dream Schools—teachers, parents and community-based organizations. While accepting a corporate foundation award last week for raising test scores, Ackerman admitted that she wished she had begun the second group of Dream Schools with parental and community support. Such an admission, as does Bush’s belated admission of mistakes, sounds more like spin control than an announced change of course.
Veteran teachers have been very clear from the beginning about why experienced educators would avoid Dream Schools. The schools demand the longest hours, have the most discipline problems, the least resources (the so-called “extra funding” doesn’t even begin to provide the resources needed), and the least academic freedom of any other district schools. First-year teachers may, indeed, express greater enthusiasm for their jobs in Dream Schools than experienced veterans, that is, until the school year starts. One Dream school principal said that watching her young, inexperienced teachers “die a slow death” was “no fun.” Will Ackerman’s recent regret translate into a new school schedule so that the 9 hour day includes time for Dream School teachers to reflect, plan and be mentored?
Dream School parents have attributed the continuing behavioral problems at the schools to an extended-day-enrichment program that lacks structure, the failure of the district to allow principals to enforce rules consistently, and the failure to hold parents accountable to the contracts they signed. Will Ackerman start listening to these voices?Leaders of community-based organizations (CBOs) have expressed frustration at being cut out of the implementation process. CBOs were hearing at one of the Dream Schools that parents were primarily concerned for the safety of their children. When the Dream School plan was finalized and shared, there was no mention of safety anywhere in the plan. Will Ackerman now allow site plans to provide for student safety in this Dream School?
While Ackerman has claimed increased test scores as evidence of her successful leadership, her test-score-based rhetoric is increasingly at odds with community-based reality. Teachers, parents and students have been and continue to be very clear that the model is seriously deficient. It is easy to raise test scores when the lowest performing students are suspended, transferred and ignored when they drop out. The Harvard Civil Rights Center calls California schools “drop out centers”, noting that the overemphasis on teaching to standardized tests “creates perverse incentives for school officials to “push out” low-performing students, and thus is likely to worsen the dropout crisis.” They also point out that dropouts are most likely in schools that are segregated (see Harvard Civil Rights study.). These trends have been chronicled annually in the Consent Decree monitor’s report, whose findings the central district continues to brush off as cavalierly as community-based criticism.
If history is any guide, Dream Schools will be as unsuccessful as former superintendent Rojas’ Reconstitution at systemically improving the fate of poor and minority students in the district. Both models define success by only one measurement—test scores—and both models were designed and implemented without the participation of those who had to live with the model. Hopefully, San Francisco’s next superintendent will work with teachers and parents to develop flexible, site-sensitive models of reform instead of imposing a one-size-fits-all model while repressing dissent.
"An overemphasis on test-driven acountability, without the balance that graduation rate accountability provides, creates perverse incentives for school officials to “push out” low-performing students, and thus is likely to worsen the dropout crisis." From, Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis in California, March 24, 2005
AWARD to SFUSD (district was one of four runner-ups), from NY Times
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 - The public schools in Norfolk, Va., …. have won this year's Broad Prize, a $500,000 award to the urban school district making the greatest strides in student achievement. . . . "In our circles this is really the Nobel Prize of education," Stephen C. Jones, the superintendent of the Norfolk schools . . . In the first year, the winner was Houston, a district later admonished by the State of Texas for falsifying its high school dropout statistics. . ..The prize, which its creators describe as the largest award given in public education, is intended to reward urban districts that simultaneously raise overall student achievement while also reducing the gaps between the performance of white and Asian students and that of their black and Hispanic counterparts, as well as gaps between rich and poor students.