Roosevelt’s grades remain low, parents want change

The majority of parents who live near Roosevelt Elementary School believe a major change in structure would be the best way to reverse low test scores and declining enrollment at the school.

More than 1,000 parents throughout Redwood City were recently polled to test the waters regarding a potential change of direction for the school, which is on its second year of sanctions after failing to meet federal assessment benchmarks. While test scores are on the rise — especially among students learning English — 80 percent of parents within school boundaries said they thought a change in school structure was a good idea.

Since 2000, enrollment at the K-5 school has declined from 519 students to 399, while the population of Hispanic students has increased from 58.8 percent to 83.2 percent.

“Not many of my neighbors have tried Roosevelt,” said Roosevelt PTA President Michelle Beatty, whose children attend the school. “I’m not sure if they see Roosevelt as a school they don’t want to their kids to go to, but it’s not one of their first choices.”

Parents were asked whether a change — eitherto another type of program, such as Montessori, or to a K-8 configuration — would make them more likely to enroll their kids, said Yvette Irving, director of English Language Learner students for the Redwood City School District.

“There was an equal split on whether they’d like a K-8, and whether they would consider the school if changes were made,” Irving said.

District leaders have been testing the waters for a Roosevelt change since early this year, hoping to avoid the kinds of federally mandated changes, from curriculum to leadership, at Taft and Fair Oaks after five years of failing to meet federal benchmarks. During early brainstorming sessions, parents suggested everything from a language-immersion program like the one at Adelante to a project-based curriculum.

“Our hope would be that if parents generated the idea, they would want to be involved,” Irving said. The district is still a long way from determining what changes will be made, if any.

However, other parents favor letting newly adopted changes, including teacher training and regular in-house assessments, take their course. Between 2005-06 and 2006-07, federal API scores rose 20 points for English learners and 30 points for Hispanic students, Irving said.

“What we need is continued support for what we’re doing,” parent Jackie Killen said. “We are making forward progress, and we need to keep doing what we’re doing.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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