San Francisco School Disrict. Above Average. But only barely?

The Advocacy committee of the League’s San Francisco Chapter is fact-finding to learn whether the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) distributes resources equitably to the City’s students. SFUSD takes a fair amount of bashing. Is it justified? The committee has much, much more investigating to do before a conclusion can be drawn. From time to time, this blog will report what we find.

From SFUSD itself, we read the district is the top performing large urban school district in California, comparing the results of the seven largest school districts on the California Standards Test (CST). It is, however, a weak field. Even “top performing” San Francisco has only “approximately half” of its schools scoring above average in state test scores. This equivocal phrasing surely means more than half of the schools scored below average. As one example, only 49% of students tested in 2007 earned a score of proficient or advanced in English Language Arts.

School Digger, a national site that uses most recently reported school test scores to rank schools provides easily accessible data by school and school district, lets us compare SFUSD with other California school districts. Again, the stats reflect only test scores. For these numbers, the year is unknown, but the data concurs with SFUSD’s only barely average profile. According to School Digger, SFUSD ranks 387 (lower is better) out of 763 ranked districts for an indexed score of .519 (higher is better, with 1.0 tops). Oakland ranks 584 with a score of .353. Los Angeles Unified, 523 and .394. Berkeley, 245, and .645. San Jose, 394 and .515. Walnut Creek (no high schools included), 36 and .923. Sacramento, 483 and .432.

In support of the Chapter’s investigation there is data everywhere. For example, there is a wealth of data related to pre-K – 12 education. The California Department of Education publishes mountains of data; unfortunately, not a single Adequate Yearly Progress Report or Academic Performance Index page was functioning today. Not for any of the years purportedly available. Hmmm. We’ll check again later. Of course, SFUSD makes available no end of numbers, both online and (we understand) at its library in the District offices.

EdSource, a non-profit all about California, publishes massive amounts of data. I could not locate a comparison by school district, but that is forgiven in light of the analysis EdSource provides related to student performance by every demographic variable you can imagine. There are also many summary reports about hot topics.

The Chapter will be fact-finding through the data as well via interviews with education stakeholders. Come join us if you have an interest or can bring expertise. Suggestions to enhance our efforts are welcome. Email LLII.

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