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Why is San Francisco the state’s worst county for black student achievement?

By in Press Enterprise on October 28, 2017

By CALmatters

By Jessica Calefati, CALmatters

Parents from San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood gathered around school cafeteria tables and listened as administrators delivered a hopeful message: Their children, who all attend Charles R. Drew Preparatory Academy, one of the city’s few schools serving mostly black students, were already on track to do better on next year’s state tests.

But the staff didn’t tell the parents about this year’s results, even though the recent meeting had been billed as a forum to discuss the scores, which the state published online several weeks ago. Those results present a much different picture. Nine out of 10 black students at the school had failed reading and math exams.

“Really? That’s surprising,” said parent Ashley Wysinger, 31, when a reporter shared the results with her afterward.

And Drew isn’t the only place in the city with lackluster scores among black students. Across the district, 19 percent of them passed the state test in reading, compared to 31 percent of black students statewide. The result: San Francisco, a progressive enclave and beacon for technological innovation, has the worst black student achievement of any county in California.

“We’ve been tilling the field and cultivating the soil, trying to create conditions that will translate into gains on our standardized tests,” Landon Dickey, the district’s special assistant for African American achievement and leadership, said in an interview. “But those gains haven’t materialized yet.”

The problem in San Francisco may be severe, but it’s not unique. Huge gaps between black kids’ scores and those of their white peers have existed in California for decades. And average reading test scores statewide show the problem persists, even as districts make progress narrowing the achievement gap between Latino and white students.

State education officials say schools must work diligently to close those gaps, but some in San Francisco are taking […]    

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