Principal Sheila Sammon and her staff and students at Paul Revere Elementary School have something to celebrate.
The K-8 school in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood made the largest gain among The City’s elementary schools in the Academic Performance Index to put them within reach of the state’s performance target for the first time in its history.
Revere, along with three-quarters of the schools in the San Francisco Unified School District, celebrated gains in the test scores released Thursday by the California Department of Education. API is a state progress report that tracks year-to-year improvement.
The district as a whole has passed the API proficiency benchmark for the first time, scoring an average of 807, which is up 11 points from 2011. Statewide, 53 percent of schools reached proficiency. Schools are given a score between 200 and 1,000. The overall goal is to reach a score of 800, which is considered proficient by the state.
In addition to the district’s overall gain, all the schools in the Superintendent’s Zones have made large improvements this year, spokeswoman Gentle Blythe noted. The Superintendent’s Zone are clusters of 15 historically under-performing schools in the Mission and Bayview neighborhoods where the district has placed a heavier focus on student achievement by providing resources and professional development for teachers.
“The investment in students is making a difference and API confirms that,” Blythe said. “Six schools with the biggest gains are Superintendent Zone schools.”
Revere, where the API score rose from 683 to 753, has been making gains for years, which Sammon credits to students, staff and the focus on achievement that the Superintendent Zones allow.
“We were in the 5 percent of persistently low-performing schools,” Sammon said. “But we’ve had resources with the School Improvement Grants and the Superintendent’s Zones and we’ve obtained consistent gains each year. No one can call us a persistently low-performing school anymore.”
Sammon gives credit to her school’s teachers.
“Our teachers are reluctant to take personal responsibility,” she said. “They are coming at 6 a.m. and they leave at 6 p.m. They’re dedicated and they are passionate, and they really should be proud of the results.”
But Revere was not the only school to make a big jump in test scores. At John O’Connell High School, another Superintendent’s Zone school, API scores climbed from 596 to 667, the biggest point increase in the district.
Principal Mark Alvarado said the hard work of the teachers and staff at the school made all the difference.
“Our team’s really good,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have walked into a house with a lot of talent and capacity. We will continue to grow exponentially over the next couple of years.”
The federal benchmark, known as Adequate Yearly Progress, focuses solely on whether students are
proficient or not.