Principals defy odds to close gap

Moscone Elementary, in the Mission District, is a public school that is commonly known as a “hidden gem.”

But what makes it shine even brighter is that, although many of the school's students are statistically labeled as underachievers, the school's overall performance on state standardized tests compare with some of the district's most coveted schools.

Last year, Moscone received a state ranking of 835, on a scale that goes up to 1,000; 800-plus is considered very good. It reached this high level of academic achievement despite the fact that 86 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches and more than half of the students are Hispanic, who have consistently scored lower than their white and Asian counterparts statewide.

“Moscone represents a school that has closed the achievement gap and we've done it and sustained it for the last several years and I'm extremely proud of that fact,” said Patricia Martel, who was the school's principal until she retired this summer.

Martel said several interventions helped boost the test scores, mainly the reduction of class sizes, a strong literacy program and professional development for all teachers “to improve the delivery of instructional strategies.”

She also noted that boosting student achievement was a shared goal between the faculty, parents and others, who worked together on “community, collaboration, consensus building and shared leadership.”

Finally, the data produced from standardized tests held guide lesson planning “to meet the needs of all students,” Martel said.

Carmelo Sgarlato, principal of James Lick Middle School — which boasted impressive growth in the number of students that jumped up to or past the state's “proficiency” bar in both math and English — agreed that having test data also made a difference for the teachers at his school. James Lick, located in Noe Valley, had a population that was 64 percent Hispanic, 13 percent black, with more than half of the students qualifying for free or reduced meals.

Sgarlato said an equally important component of the school's success was giving teachers daily, common planning time to talk about their work in the classroom.

“Teachers were able to use that data, to go back into their common planning time, to talk about whether they were successful, and plan more effectively,” Sgarlato said.

Patricia Gray, principal of Balboa High School, another school that has defied the odds, agreed that “using the data to drive instruction” has helped boost student achievement. She also credited, class size reductions at the ninth-grade level, and “high expectations,” for all students, noting that whereas the school once only gave Advanced Placement tests to about 20-30 students, last year 187 students took the college-level tests.

beslinger@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

Badly needed rain cooled off pedestrians on Market Street in The City on Wednesday. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Storm door opens in San Francisco — what will the rains bring?

‘Come Monday, fire season in Northern California should be done’

Newly appointed City Attorney David Chiu will play a key role in an upcoming legal battle between gig economy companies and The City. (Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)
City Attorney David Chiu faces immediate test in major gig economy lawsuit

DoorDash and Grubhub are suing San Francisco over price controls

FILE — In-N-Out Burger, the popular California fast-food chain, is resisting San Francisco's public health rules that require indoor diners to show proof of vaccination. (J. Emilio Flores/The New York Times)
When it comes to San Francisco vaccine rules, In-N-Out should heed Biblical advice

Burger chain’s vaccine fight distracts from its tasty burgers and French fries controversy

The Walgreens at 4645 Mission St. in The City is among those slated to close. <ins>(Courtesy photo)</ins>
Walgreens says it’s closing five SF stores due to crime. Where’s the data?

Walgreens should be transparent, enlighten city leaders about crime’s effect on business

Lake Hennessey, a reservoir for Napa, looked dry in June. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday issued a proclamation extending the drought emergency statewide and asked residents to redouble water conservation efforts. <ins>(Mike Kai Chen/New York Times)</ins>
Newsom declares drought emergency across California

State closed out its second-driest water year on record

Most Read