SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews chats with students during a tour of his alma mater, Herbert Hoover Middle School on May 2.

SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews chats with students during a tour of his alma mater, Herbert Hoover Middle School on May 2.

Black student achievement focus of SFUSD superintendent’s first three months in office

The San Francisco Unified School District must develop detailed strategies to address black student outcomes and mend an achievement gap that “has remained at the same level for decades,” according to its new superintendent Vincent Matthews.

During his first three months on the job, Matthews toured 57 campuses — more than one-fourth of the district’s schools — to hear from educators, city and district leaders, students, parents and other key stakeholders, and shared his initial findings and recommendations in a 90-day plan presented to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

Matthews concluded that the district is data-driven, financially responsible, offers a variety of programs to students from career pathways to arts and athletics, operates effective teacher recruitment programs and is governed by a school board that “works well as a unit” and prioritizes students’ well being.

Among a slew of recommendations made by Matthews were increasing support for school site leaders, increasing equity-focused professional development for educators, improving lines of communication with parents and creating district-wide “customer service standards.”

While Matthews concluded that overall student achievement has remained “stable,” he zeroed in on gaping disparities among black students that he said are “systemic” and span decades.

He said such barriers to equity for black students exist in both historically underserved schools and schools that, while high performing, also have the highest achievement gaps in the district.

A total of 20 schools fall into one of the two categories and, combined, serve almost half of the SFUSD’s black students enrolled in grades K-8. At all of these schools, Matthews highlighted equity barriers, such as high poverty rates and teacher turnover.

“We have racial and ethnic segregation, [and] as a system we are trying to overcome explicit bias and systemic oppression,” he said. “And at those schools, we usually have new or inexperienced teachers or leaders.”

At historically underserved schools with the highest black student populations, more than 70 percent of students are eligible for the reduced lunch program, less than 30 percent are proficient in English and math, and teacher retention averages about six years, compared with the districtwide average of 12 years.

At the high achievement gap schools, the achievement gap between black students and the highest achieving racial groups was at least 50 percent.

Black community leaders who attended the hearing commended Matthews for highlighting the issue, but said the report detailed nothing new.

“The data that the superintendent has presented you, I’ve known that for 50 years,” said NAACP President Rev. Amos Brown, who called on the school board to declare a state of emergency regarding black student achievement.

Matthews recommended pouring additional resources into these 20 schools before expanding resources to black students and other underserved groups at other schools.

Board of Education Commissioner Stevon Cook called Matthews’ leadership “honest about the condition that we are in.”

Matthews is expected to present a detailed plan for the district’s identified growth areas by February. The full 90-day report can be viewed on the district’s website.education

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read