A new report comparing school systems in 50 cities nationwide – including nine in California – found that inequities persist, but some cities provide better overall opportunities for all students than others.

The report, called “Measuring Up: Educational Improvement and Opportunity in 50 Cities,” was released Wednesday by the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education. It looked at test scores, suspension and graduation rates and the percentages of students taking ACT/SAT and advanced math classes from 2011-2013, before California schools began administering Smarter Balanced tests based on more recently implemented Common Core standards.

“It’s kind of a problem-framing report,” said lead author Michael DeArmond. “Nobody looks good on everything. There’s no one sure path to success. The enormity of the challenges we face is at least reason for cities to double down on urgency and get away from sector-to-sector horse races to discuss, ‘How can we use the resources we do have in the city to try to do good things for kids?”

The report looked at both district and charter schools across cities in 27 states, including the California cities of Chula Vista, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana and Stockton.

It found that:

• Academic performance didn’t improve in most cities, with some proficiency gains in cities including Los Angeles, while large numbers of schools were “stuck in the bottom 5 percent of schools in their state” in some cities, including Oakland.

• Low-income students and students of color had limited access to high-performing schools, with Hispanic students in Los Angeles nearly seven times as likely as white students to be in an elementary or middle school that scored low in math.

• White students were more likely than black and Hispanic students to be enrolled in a top-scoring elementary or middle school.  In California the disparities were smallest in Santa Anta, Chula Vista, Sacramento and Stockton, and largest in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego.

• Black students were more likely than white students to receive out-of-school suspensions, with overall suspensions in California highest in Stockton and Sacramento. Disparities between black and white students were greatest in San Jose.

• Less than 16 percent of all high school students in the nine California cities took the ACT/SAT in 2011-12, with the highest percentage in Santa Ana and the lowest percentage in Stockton. Typically, students in grades 11 and 12 take these tests, but researchers did not receive specific grade-level data regarding test-takers.

• Less than 19 percent of all high school students in the nine California cities took advanced math classes in 2011-12, with Oakland enrolling the largest percentage overall, but also having the biggest gap between white and black students.

“I hope this will serve as a catalyst for city leaders to take a look at where they might be falling short and identify other cities they might learn from,” DeArmond said.

This story has been updated to clarify grade level data for some categories.

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  1. CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

    I have a question about this: • Less than 16 percent of all students in the nine California cities took the ACT/SAT in 2011-12, with the highest percentage in Santa Ana and the lowest percentage in Stockton. Does this mean 16 percent of high school students? High school juniors and seniors? All students? That's a little unclear. "All students" or even "all high school students" would make no sense, but the report should specify so we can … Read More

    I have a question about this:

    • Less than 16 percent of all students in the nine California cities took the ACT/SAT in 2011-12, with the highest percentage in Santa Ana and the lowest percentage in Stockton.

    Does this mean 16 percent of high school students? High school juniors and seniors? All students? That’s a little unclear. “All students” or even “all high school students” would make no sense, but the report should specify so we can understand.

    Also, a few years ago, with huge fanfare, the Stockton school district did a project where all students in certain grades — probably 11th and 12th, but I don’t remember — took the SAT. As I recall, there was a big deal of doing wake-up calls and providing transportation. Did this happen only the one year? Did it have an effect?

    And actually, I have the same question about advanced math classes — in what grades are they offered, and does that mean 19 percent of students in those grades?

    Thanks.

    Replies

    • Theresa Harrington 10 months ago10 months ago

      Caroline, Michael DeArmond has provided the following answer to your questions regarding the percentages of test-takers: "The denominator for this measure was total school enrollment for grades 9-12. The OCR data didn't include information on either the grade in which students took the test or grade-by-grade enrollments. So we used the number of test-takers over total enrollment....Ideally we would want to know the share of graduates in a school that take the test, but those data … Read More

      Caroline, Michael DeArmond has provided the following answer to your questions regarding the percentages of test-takers:

      “The denominator for this measure was total school enrollment for grades 9-12. The OCR data didn’t include information on either the grade in which students took the test or grade-by-grade enrollments. So we used the number of test-takers over total enrollment….Ideally we would want to know the share of graduates in a school that take the test, but those data weren’t publicly available for the cities in our report.”

      • CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

        So, just clarifying: Regarding the statistic that "16 percent of all students ... took the SAT/ACT," it's not correct to say "all students"; it should say "all students in grades 9-12." With the further clarification that the norm is for only students in grades 11 and/or 12 to take the SAT or ACT. Since the current wording is inaccurate, seems like that should be corrected in the original post. Read More

        So, just clarifying: Regarding the statistic that “16 percent of all students … took the SAT/ACT,” it’s not correct to say “all students”; it should say “all students in grades 9-12.” With the further clarification that the norm is for only students in grades 11 and/or 12 to take the SAT or ACT. Since the current wording is inaccurate, seems like that should be corrected in the original post.

        • Theresa Harrington 9 months ago9 months ago

          Caroline, We have clarified the wording. Thanks.

  2. jo gold 10 months ago10 months ago

    Just shocking that people of color and tending toward poverty are disadvantaged in our educational system. I am a coach for new teachers. One of my mentees is an intern at a large inner city high school. She is surrounded by students who do not want to be in school or at least in that class. Many of these poor students of color will make fine inmates and burger flippers. … Read More

    Just shocking that people of color and tending toward poverty are disadvantaged in our educational system. I am a coach for new teachers. One of my mentees is an intern at a large inner city high school. She is surrounded by students who do not want to be in school or at least in that class. Many of these poor students of color will make fine inmates and burger flippers. I only feel bad for the people who will be their victims. Oh, but wait, we have Restorative Justice. That is the answer, why didn’t I think of that.

  3. Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

    Some details about the leadership at the Center for Reinventing Public Education: "Paul Hill, Director and Research Professor, is also a member of the Hoover Institution's Koret Task Forceand a Senior Fellow in the Brookings Institution's Economic Studies Program. He is an advocate for charter schools. Robin Lake, Associate Director, also the Executive Director of the Center's National Charter School Research Project (NCSRP)." From Sourcewatch. The center is funded by the Gates and the Waltons as well as various … Read More

    Some details about the leadership at the Center for Reinventing Public Education:

    “Paul Hill, Director and Research Professor, is also a member of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Forceand a Senior Fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Economic Studies Program. He is an advocate for charter schools.

    Robin Lake, Associate Director, also the Executive Director of the Center’s National Charter School Research Project (NCSRP).”

    From Sourcewatch.

    The center is funded by the Gates and the Waltons as well as various pro-charter organizations and others.

    Not exactly objective third parties here.

    It is (almost) amazing that they could go through all this analysis about how kids are segregated by income levels into poor minority areas and wealthier White areas, and the consequent educational access available to students, without ever mentioning that economic segregation is responsible for the inequities they claim to be concerned about.

    They also failed to mention how, as the UCLA Civil Rights Project has documented, how much charter schools add to the school segregation problem. Shocking!

    The center is also known as being a stalking horse for the charter school industrial complex and coming out against teachers’ professional rights. Real bunch of “advocates” here, but not for public education.

    Replies

    • CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

      Good point — the same point I’ve made about CREDO (located at Stanford, run by the Hoover Institution) in the past. It needs to be disclosed when the source is an advocacy organization with a name that makes it sound like an impartial scholarly research source.

  4. FloydThursby1941 10 months ago10 months ago

    Part of the inequity is many rich people don't support public schools. Remember, San Francisco has a liberal reputation but it is one of the most Republican Cities in the U.S. in terms of the percentage of white and high income people who send their kids to private school rather than to diverse public schools, or move away, and this includes many supposedly on the left like Newsome and Daly (white flight before kids … Read More

    Part of the inequity is many rich people don’t support public schools. Remember, San Francisco has a liberal reputation but it is one of the most Republican Cities in the U.S. in terms of the percentage of white and high income people who send their kids to private school rather than to diverse public schools, or move away, and this includes many supposedly on the left like Newsome and Daly (white flight before kids started school) and Pelosi and Feinstein (private). So this causes many to be isolated in schools with few well off kids including one school Cobb, in the middle of Pacific Heights which gets virtually no support from nearby whites. It would be a dream school celebrated on MLK Day, rich and poor, white and black, but goes unsupported by the whites in Pacific Heights, a neighborhood many consider liberal but which in reality is far from it.

    Replies

    • Theresa Harrington 10 months ago10 months ago

      The report shows that San Francisco has the highest percentage of students attending private schools compared to the other 49 cities — at 29 percent. Although the report writers said they realized this affects the public school system, they didn’t have similar data for private schools to be able to make academic and demographic comparisons.

      • Don 10 months ago10 months ago

        The SFUSD is in a multiyear process of detracking with math last year and English next. Applications for private schools are up and will likely continue to grow as SFUSD eliminates opportunity for advancement.

        • Dawn Urbanek 10 months ago10 months ago

          When people who really care about their child's Success in competing for admission into college realize what the State has done to public education, they will leave in droves to home school, to attend private schools or charter schools. Measures of academic performance will force parents who want their child to attend any institution other than community college to seek any means of educating their child than the California Public Education system. Even the UC … Read More

          When people who really care about their child’s Success in competing for admission into college realize what the State has done to public education, they will leave in droves to home school, to attend private schools or charter schools. Measures of academic performance will force parents who want their child to attend any institution other than community college to seek any means of educating their child than the California Public Education system. Even the UC and Cal State Systems have made it public knowledge that they will no longer accept honors classes from public High Schools that have not had their curriculum pre-approved,,,

          The UC and Cal State schools know that the kids leaving California Public schools are not prepared for college level work. They are “uneducated” and require remedial work before they can continue into college level classes.

          Unfortunatey- students who start at community college often do not transfer to CalState or UC and never reach their academic potential or a job that sustaines a living wage which is why the State of California is so interested in having minimum wage jobs pay $15 – $20 per hour.

          The State of California knows that we have now and into the future- a mass number oof young people who do not have the skills to earn a living wage. That is because the California Public education system has failed to adequately educate students… a continued lack of adequate funding has prevented students from reaching their academic potential.

    • Dawn Urbanek 10 months ago10 months ago

      It is hard to support public education when pubic education supports employees at the expense of students. When over 100% of the budget goes to employee compensation it is hard for most people (who are not as stupid as the education elites would believe) to support public education. The people that want their children to succeed opt for private school- charter schools or home schools. The State of California, the Legislators and the BigBusiness of … Read More

      It is hard to support public education when pubic education supports employees at the expense of students. When over 100% of the budget goes to employee compensation it is hard for most people (who are not as stupid as the education elites would believe) to support public education. The people that want their children to succeed opt for private school- charter schools or home schools.

      The State of California, the Legislators and the BigBusiness of Public Education underestimate the knowledge of the people of the Great State of California.

      We are not as stupid as you think.

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