SF public schools set to expand, streamline services for black students 

The San Francisco Unified School District is preparing to provide expanded and more streamlined services for its black students, who district officials say have long faced systemic barriers.

A resolution that was introduced Tuesday to the Board of Education highlights how the district will both prioritize and keep track of its goals to eliminate the achievement gap between black and other students by creating new data-driven approaches to tracking student success and hiring more black teachers, among other efforts.

“We’re trying to be very aggressive about addressing all of those concerns,” said Commissioner Shamann Walton, one of three board members who authored the resolution.

Though the number of black students in the SFUSD has dropped from 9,739 in 2001 to 4,215 students in 2015, many continue to fall behind in standardized test scores, GPAs, and graduation and attendance rates, according to the district.

Data released by the state last month revealed the graduation rate for black students dropped to 57.3 percent in 2013-14, compared to 65.5 percent in 2012-13. Subsequently, the dropout rate for black students climbed from 16.5 percent in 2012-13 to 24.2 percent last school year. Landon Dickey, who was hired in January to fill the newly created position of the special assistant for African-American achievement and leadership, called the numbers “troubling.”

Dickey has been tasked with charting a course for improving the success of black students, and this semester has met with various community groups, students, teachers and parents to learn the exact needs in The City’s schools.

Tuesday’s resolution calls for the creation of an African American Community Council that will include parents, educators and community-based leaders, as well as an African American Internal Oversight Committee composed of district officials.

“What we want to achieve through this process is have a more regular, ongoing way of tracking what’s happening to our students in our schools,” Dickey said.

The resolution will next head to a board committee, where possible costs among other issues will likely be explored.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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