At George Washington High School, Principal Ericka Lovrin and her staff made it a point to focus on minority and historically underachieving students to improve testing and comprehension during the 2010-11 school year.
It appears that work paid off.
Black and Hispanic students increased their scores in math and English more than the San Francisco Unified School District as a whole, essentially slowly closing the achievement gap, according to California Standard Testing and Reporting, or STAR, data released Monday by the California Department of Education.
At Washington High, a typically higher-performing school, Lovrin said they focused on 220 students who were at the basic level and created mentor groups to help them understand the importance of the test and what it takes to become proficient in each subject.
“Some kids hadn’t even seen their scores,” Lovrin said. “So it was a lot of marketing, understanding, tutoring and mentoring.”
Districtwide, black students improved their English scores by 2.7 percent from 2010, while Hispanic kids increased their math scores by 2.2 percent.
Overall, 57.4 percent of San Francisco students in grades two through 11 were proficient or above in English, up 1.1 percent from 2010, according to the data. In math, the number of proficient or above students increased by 0.2 percent from 55.4 percent in 2010 to 55.6 percent in 2011.
Statewide, roughly 54 percent of students are proficient in English compared to just more than 52 percent in 2010, while 50 percent of students are proficient or better in math compared to 48 percent in 2010.
SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia said he wants to eliminate the gap between ethnic students and their white counterparts.
“Only when we eliminate the achievement gap will we be providing equity and access to education,” he said.
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said the achievement gap between black and Hispanic students versus their peers is “troubling.”
But Torlakson said though gains have been small year over year, they are large compared to when tests were first administered in 2003.
“Thirty-eight percent was below basic; now it’s about 27 percent,” he said.
STAR testing helps schools and the state determine how well second- through 11th-graders reach California’s standards in language arts, math, science and history.
Percent of students in San Francisco Unified schools proficient or above, based on subject.
English (grades 2 through 11)
Math (grades 2 through 7)
History (grades 8 through 11)
Science (grades 5, 8 and 10)
Total number of students tested
Sample questions students could see via grade and subject:
Grade 2: Language Arts
“Fred’s puppy is nameless.”
“Nameless” means the puppy:
A. knows its name
B. has many names
C. hears its name
D. has no name
Answer is D
Grade 7: Math
The atmosphere normally exerts a pressure of about 15 pounds of force per square inch on surfaces at sea level. About how much force does the atmosphere exert on a surface 30 inches in area?
A. 2 pounds
B. 15 pounds
C. 45 pounds
D. 450 pounds
Answer is D
Grade 10: Biology
There are many different enzymes located in the cytoplasm of a single cell. How is a specific enzyme able to catalyze a specific reaction?
A. Different enzymes are synthesized in specific areas of the cytoplasm.
B. Most enzymes can catalyze many different reactions.
C. An enzyme binds to a specific substrate (reactant) for the reaction catalyzed.
D. Enzymes are transported to specific substrates (reactants) by ribosomes.
Answer is C
Source for all boxes: California Department of Education