School district searching for ways to help minority students thrive

Every time teacher Jang Wen asks his Sheridan Elementary School fifth-graders a grammar question, he adds, “discuss it with your partner.”

The students whisper for a few seconds before their hands shoot up.

Partnered learning is one of a broad palette of strategies used at the Ocean View neighborhood school that is helping many of its students — 96 percent of whom are nonwhite — succeed when their peers throughout The City are falling behind, according to Principal Nur Jehan Khalique.

When Khalique arrived seven years ago, Sheridan’s overall performance on state standardized tests were flagging at 638. The school had been put into the district program that provides additional support for underperforming schools.

Now, Sheridan’s state Academic Performance Index score for its socioeconomically disadvantaged students is 830 — above the statewide performance target of 800. Students who succeed at Sheridan often go on to succeed at other schools, Parent-Teacher Council President Roderick Mills said.

“When my daughter [Victoria] transferred to Hoover Middle School, she went straight into the honor roll,” Mills said. “They’re definitely getting prepared for the next level.”

Sheridan is one of numerous schools within the San Francisco Unified School District that is beating the odds.

While the district is the top-performing large urban school district in the state, 77.8 percent of blacks, 64.8 percent of Pacific Islanders and 66.2 percent of Hispanics are not meeting proficiency levels on state assessments, according to Sandra Fewer, director of parent organizing for Coleman Advocates, a San Francisco nonprofit.

In hopes of boosting what’s known as the “achievement gap,” The City’s Board of Education is considering a resolution that would give the district a deadline of 2011 by which it would need to get 60 percent of its minority students at proficiency levels in math and English.

The timeline was adopted by the Board of Education’s curriculum committee April 7 and is expected to go to the full board for approval April 22. The resolution will also be discussed at the board’s budget committee Monday.

The district board also passed a resolution four years ago requiring annual updates on the achievement gap; the first update was April 7.

More minority students are enrolling in Gifted and Talented Education and Advanced Placement programs, according to Susan Wong, district director of pupil services.

District leaders are in the final stages of crafting a master plan that would study students in depth and find more ways to help them succeed, according to Superintendent Carlos Garcia, who said he hopes the plan will be adopted by the end of this school year.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

Bay Area NewseducationLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. Attorney David Anderson announces federal firearms charges against two men for their roles in a March 2019 shooting outside the Fillmore Heritage Center in a news conference alongside SFPD staff at the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Departing U.S. attorney predicts corruption probe will continue

David Anderson shook up City Hall as top federal prosecutor

Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton has been asked to mediate union contract talks. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supervisor Walton tapped to mediate teacher contract talks

District and union at odds over hours in-person students should be in the classroom

California is set to receive supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Courtesy photo)
California could receive 380K doses of new J&J COVID vaccine next week

California could receive 380,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

Most Read