That’s what we all want, right? Tonight at our Committee of the Whole the Board got our annual report on the implementation of the Safe and Supportive Schools resolution we passed in 2014. That resolution followed on the groundbreaking Restorative Practices resolution the Board adopted in 2009, which has completely changed the way the district approaches discipline.
I don’t want to minimize how much of a shift it has been, nor how much more has been demanded of teachers — sometimes without the necessary support and training. Passing resolutions and demanding change is one thing: you also have to back it up with dollars and training and support, and sometimes these resources haven’t been as available as they should have been.
Mainly what the resolution has accomplished is a big drop in suspensions. We have also seen much better tracking of out-of-school time–absences and also out of class referrals. We now have a much better idea of how much time students-especially students of color–are spending out of class, and while the picture is still quite depressing we at least are beginning to be able to trust the data.
No one should point fingers or be happy about this data: as a community we all own it and have a responsibility to improve it. Teachers are doing their best to manage sometimes difficult behaviors from students, parents are doing their best to get kids to school, and kids are doing their best to engage in class. And all of us can do better, if we support each other and figure out how to meet the most pressing needs in our communities.
Anyway, I highly recommend a close read of the latest report. It does a great job of detailing the district’s current approach and investments in safe and supportive schools, and is a good resource for anyone who wants to know more about the implementation of this very important and beneficial policy.
At long last, the final report on the first year of implementation of the new student assignment system is out. The Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment will discuss the report on Monday evening, but for the wonks among you, here it is ahead of Monday’s meeting — 80+ pages of maps, charts and data to dig into and analyze. Leave me your thoughts in the comments!
Download the report (PDF format) >>>>>>>
We had a Curriculum Committee meeting on Monday, and I’ve been pondering some very interesting data presented by Dr. Ritu Khanna, our head of research. According to recent studies, it’s possible to pinpoint the students that are at risk for not completing high school based on two risk factors in 8th grade: having a GPA of less than 2.0 and an attendance rate lower than 87.5 percent.
According to a study of almost 2. 6 million student records from urban school districts across the country, 89 percent of students who did not possess either risk factor in 8th grade and who passed all of their academic core courses (math, English, social studies or science) in 9th grade graduated in four years. By contrast, only 55 percent of students who possessed one risk factor but still passed all of their 9th grade core courses were able to graduate in four years. And only 24 percent of students who possessed both risk factors in the 8th grade — even though they passed all of their 9th grade core courses — graduated in four years. Scary.
Curious what the data for 8th graders at SF middle schools is? Funny you should ask — here it is!
8th grade students with a Fall 2010 GPA of less than 2.0 AND instructional time attendance of less than 87.5%, by SF middle school*
||# of Students
||Percent of 8th
|Bessie Carmichael K-8
|Martin Luther King, Jr.
|Willie L. Brown
*I noticed as I was entering the data that Claire Lilienthal is missing;a commenter noticed that Lawton is also missing. I’ll find that data and add it later.
What I think is interesting about this data is the high rate of students with risk factors at several schools that are otherwise high-performing (Hoover and Presidio, primarily, but also Marina). At some of the lower-performing schools (Horace Mann and Willie Brown in particular) the relative lack of students with risk factors might be related to those schools being very diligent with their anti-truancy efforts. Anyway, the real point is that now we know there are 182 students currently in the 8th grade who are statistically at least, very at-risk. I’ve asked for this data to be transmitted to each middle school (and the high schools where these students will move next year), so that schools can develop plans to support them.
This post from October has gotten a lot of attention recently. Since tomorrow is the deadline for submitting Round I applications in our school enrollment process, I thought I’d repost the key nugget as a public service:
Of the 947 families who did not receive any of their Round I choices last year, almost 800 listed one of these high demand schools as their first or second choice:
- Alice Fong Yu
- West Portal
The way I interpret this data is that people are focusing a bit too much on how the statistics are developed and not enough on the choice patterns for high demand schools — I find the list above to be stunning. If you have your heart set on one or more of these schools for Kindergarten next year, you may have to settle in for the long haul, because a lot of other people have their hearts set on them too.
Get those applications in! And good luck, everyone.
I have been given updated results for special education students in SFUSD on the California Standards Test in English/Language Arts and Mathematics; the data in the original post changed very little.
The National Council on Learning Disabilities has compiled an extensive trove of data on the state of learning disabilities in the United States — I wasn’t surprised by much in the downloadable published report (PDF), which is a mixed bag of encouraging and discouraging trends, but it is a great source of easily-digestible information for those who like to pore over this kind of thing. Some key facts:
- About 2.7 million public school students–almost 6 percent of public school students nationwide–have been identified as having learning disabilities (in San Francisco we have about 2,400 students identified as learning disabled, about 4 percent of the district’s total enrollment). Nationwide, two-thirds of students identified as learning disabled are male;
- The number of school-age children identified as having learning disabilities escalated rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s but dropped by seven percent between 1998 and 2007. No one is quite sure what is behind this decline but most think it is some combination of stricter standards for identifying learning disabilities and better instructional strategies that have led to earlier identification and better outcomes for younger children;
- Students with learning disabilities are far more likely to be held back in school or involved in disciplinary actions than their non-disabled peers;
- The high school dropout rate among students with learning disabilities was 25 percent in 2007 — down from 41% in 1997 but still unacceptably high. Of all the different disability classifications, only students identified as emotionally disturbed drop out at a higher rate than students identified as learning disabled;
- Despite a renewed focus in the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) on preparing students for postsecondary education, only one in three students with learning disabilities reported enrolling in any kind of postsecondary educational program since 2000. And while students with learning disabilities enrolled in two-year community college programs at roughly the same rate as their non-disabled peers, they were far less likely to seek out and enroll in four-year college programs;
- A shortage of qualified teachers and inadequate teacher training continues to severely impact students with extra needs. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education, at least 11 percent of special education teachers are not “highly qualified” as defined by IDEA. Another study found that just 57 percent of special education teachers said they were very prepared to teach their state’s academic standards; in a third study, fewer than half of principals surveyed said their general education teachers were well-prepared to improve the performance of their students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) — this is particularly worrisome, since the general trend over the past decade (though not in San Francisco!) has been to educate students with learning disabilities in the general education classroom, offering supports and individual “pull-out” sessions where needed and maximizing students’ exposure to the general curriculum.