On March 9, 2010, the state announced the names of schools ranked in the lowest five percent for academic achievement in the state. These schools will require substantial changes to their school year, governance, and funding. Among the schools named, 11 are a part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District.
Our community should know San Bernardino City Schools had already taken decisive actions at all of the schools on this new state list, prior to the creation of the list. In fact, most of the schools listed have made great progress in the last two to three years due to these decisive actions. We have aggressively added new leadership at most of these schools as well as provided additional training and material for teachers. We have provided teacher and administrator coaches and academic specialists, restructured academic offerings, and replaced weak programs with strong ones. The results have been positive and in some cases even spectacular!
District wide, our test scores have shown great gains over the course of the last six years. Six years ago 85 percent of the schools in San Bernardino were scoring in the 500 point range or lower in the Academic Performance Index (API). Today, almost 50 percent of our schools score in the 700-900 point ranges.
We have the highest scoring middle school at Richardson PREP HI. Middle College High School is among the highest scoring high schools in the county. We have almost doubled our career path programs for high school students. Our dropout rate is showing the steepest decline in the county, and our innovative programs and student interventions have earned the District numerous awards both at the state and national levels. All of this was accomplished in spite of declining enrollment, a weak economy, and the largest budget cuts to public schools since the Great Depression.
We believe that the state should take a new approach to support our local efforts, including funding sources that can be counted on from year to year and includes greater flexibility on how the funds can be used. Greater partnerships must be created between districts, businesses and city offices in order to maximize our resources and services for local families struggling with major economic and social obstacles that are unique to our community.
Education must be everyone’s priority because our children represent the future vitality of the community in which we live. Parents must become active partners and our teachers and administrators must not be villanized every time a new state program is rolled out.
It is important that we act decisively and quickly to address our latest challenges, and this is precisely what San Bernardino City Schools has done and will continue to do. We do expect that all of our schools will continue to improve as measured by the state’s measurement systems.
But, more importantly, we expect that our schools will be a great place for children to learn.
Dr. Arturo Delgado is Superintendent of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, the seventh largest in California, serving more than 53,000 students in the San Bernardino and Highland communities.