Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 | Reporter Emily Alpert‘s Dec. 20 article “Gauging the Success of Three Schools” provides a comprehensive view of the myriad academic, social, and health services available to students and families through the San Diego State University/City Heights Educational Collaborative. It is increasingly clear that these are the kinds of supports all schools should provide in communities like City Heights in order to improve the lives of children. The involvement of San Diego State and Price Charities is central to creating a learning environment with community support and a capacity to respond to the changing demographics of our area.

With so many resources at these schools, it is a fair question to ask about the success of the three schools, but we think that success can be measured in a number of ways — not just standardized test scores, understanding that our ultimate goal is to improve these even further as well. In the case of these three schools, changes within the City Heights Educational Collaborative and its schools have been accompanied by dramatic changes in the leadership of the San Diego Unified School District, as well as new national education standards. The Collaborative has responded to these changes and there are several positive results that show its success.

  • Ranked No. 1 for API growth: Since 1999, Hoover High and Clark Middle have ranked first among San Diego high schools and middle schools for growth in the Academic Performance Index (API) ranking — which is promoted as the most appropriate measure of improvement in school achievement; Rosa Parks Elementary has ranked 6th among 99 other schools.
  • More students outperforming their peers: Since establishing the City Heights Educational Collaborative, more students from these schools are taking algebra in the 7th grade. Last year, 34 seventh-grade students at Monroe Clark took the California Standards Test (CST) for Algebra I. As a group, they displayed an incredible level of success with 97 percent scoring proficient or advanced, a year earlier than most of their peers. And the number of 7th graders who take the Algebra I exam is expected to double in the 2008/09 academic year.
  • Schools are consistently improving: The investment in the City Heights community has consistently improved. In 2007 and 2008, Hoover High School reached a 70 percent graduation rate, meeting the federal graduation criteria — something that had not been done in previous years. In 2008, higher percentages of 6th and 9th grade students scored proficient or advanced on the CST for English and Mathematics than in any of the previous six years. In addition, the incoming classes of 2008/09 are achieving near unprecedented levels of proficiency on both English and Mathematics.

Many of our other successes were noted in Alpert’s article such as our teacher retention rate and our exceptional parent centers and services. Beginning last school year, SDSU’s National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) began work with the three Collaborative schools. NCUST has become a leading center for disseminating successful approaches to improving student achievement and it is a source of pride to be able to offer its services to schools in City Heights.

The three Collaborative schools are on the right path and we anticipate continued gains that demonstrate the value of the investment in our youth. The students of City Heights are the future of our society and are worthy of our investment.

Tim Allen is executive director of the City Heights Educational Collaborative.

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