Newly released Berkeley Unified School District statistics reveal slight to moderate improvement in closing the districtwide achievement gap, though not all of the yearly target goals have been met.
Officials gave a presentation before the district’s Board of Education Wednesday night regarding the progress of 2020 Vision, a joint plan launched in June 2008 between the district and community partners aiming to close the achievement gap between African American and Hispanic students and their white counterparts by 2020.
This is the first major set of data released since the program’s commencement, and it tracks eight indicators districtwide, including third grade reading proficiency, kindergarten readiness and absenteeism.
“We are very proud of the class of 2020,” said Debbi D’Angelo, the district’s director of evaluation and assessment. “We saw a huge jump for our kids as far as where they are heading.”
According to 2011-12 California Standards Test data, 76 percent of the class of 2020 is now grade-level proficient in reading — a 20 percent jump since the previous year. This brings the class to just a few percentage points short of its 2013 goal of 80 percent.
Despite third-grade reading proficiency increases overall, the numbers reveal that the district is still falling short of the program’s goal of a 15 percent per year increase.
“Some people are purveying these results as phenomenal, and I think that’s a little bit overstated … We still have a long way to go,” said City Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “We have made a little bit of progress, and it helps to have a little bit of progress, but I think we really need to look at what’s working in other school districts as well.”
For the 2011-12 school year, the number of students with more than five days of unexcused absences decreased by more than 5 percent compared to the previous school year, which was the program’s goal. The number of students who missed more than 10 percent of the school year decreased as well, though not enough to meet the district’s 5 percent target goal.
However, according to D’Angelo, the district was pleased to see growth in its Academic Performance Index — measured on a scale of 1,000, with 800 being proficient — which improved 19 points to 810. Data show a 25-point increase for English language learners and 15-point increases for both African American and Hispanic groups.
“We have double-digit growth in every subgroup, and it says we are moving in the right direction,” said Berkeley school board candidate Judy Appel. “I think the key now is using this motivation to continue to look deeper and do more. We shouldn’t be satisfied until we can’t predict the academic success of a student based on ethnicity.”
Tracy Hollander, PTA secretary and school board candidate, said district goals for this school year include increasing high school math proficiency, finding mentors for African American male students and increasing cultural proficiency education. The 2020 Vision coalition should work toward supporting teachers and increasing cultural competence in order to close this achievement gap, she said.
“We expect the world of our teachers, and so we should give them the world,” Hollander said. “I think we have some work to do in that regard. We need a real focus on making the learning engaging for all of our students so it works for all the kids.”
Contact Megan Messerly at [email protected].
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