October 08, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Malcolm X Academy proves that ALL kids can achieve.

Prospects are improving for kids in the San Francisco Bayview Hunter's Point area, thanks to hard work at the Malcolm X Academy by teachers, parents, and students. This year's vastly improved test scores paint a rosier future for the neighborhood children, and provide the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) with a shining example of improvement under tough circumstances.

Just last year, the K-5 school, which serves children in this low-income and predominantly African American neighborhood, was threatened with closure due to SFUSD's budget pressures. Two consecutive years of being labeled as a "state-monitored" school - the result of falling short of annual academic progress targets set by the state - also endangered the school.

But the 2005 California Standards Test (CST) results released by the California Department of Education show that Malcolm X has increased the schoolwide percent scoring at "proficient or advanced" in math from 8% in 2003 to 33% in 2005. Further, the school's African American students increased math scores from 10% in 2003 to 29% in 2005.

In English language arts, Malcolm X has increased the schoolwide percent scoring at "proficient or advanced" from 10% in 2003 to 19% in 2005. Further, its African American students increased English language arts scores from 7% in 2003 to 16% in 2005.

The improvements are largely the result of a turn-around process that began in 2002 when the school partnered with San Francisco-based WestEd and its School Assistance and Intervention Team (SAIT). "This wonderful neighborhood school community was in a tough spot. It would have been easy to throw in the towel because the indicators for success were not good," says Noelle Caskey, WestEd's SAIT team leader for Malcolm X Academy. "The teachers at Malcolm X had a well-deserved reputation for providing excellent emotional and social support for their students. Now I'm proud that their academic support equals all the other benefits children receive at Malcolm X Academy."

Arlene Ackerman, SFUSD Superintendent, adds, "I am happy that WestEd has entered into a collaborative partnership with Malcolm X Academy. My hope is that the end result will be higher achievement for the children who attend Malcolm X because they deserve the highest quality education available to them."

Last year, SFUSD's Board of Education was faced with a budget shortfall caused by declining student enrollment. The district has lost over 4,000 students since 2000, but still operates nearly as many school sites as it did in 1986. The budget pressure combined with low academic achievement ensured Malcolm X's inclusion on the Board's short list for closure. But after the families, teachers, and even the mayor rallied to keep the school open, the Board voted to save the school.

"This school is so very important to families all over Hunter's Point," says Principal Rosalind Sarah. "The kids can walk or take a short bus ride to a school where teachers care about them in every way." She adds, "We've collaborated with WestEd to improve our student achievement, and even though the SAIT process was not easy, I'm pleased that our hard work has paid off."

Malcolm X has now exited the state-monitored list of schools because it has made significant academic growth for two consecutive years. Fred Tempes, Director of WestEd's Comprehensive School Assistance Program, points out that in two years' time Malcolm X has built the structure and processes to maintain academic improvements in the coming years. "Their exceptional growth is not a fluke," he says. "Malcolm X Academy now has a sustainable model for quality academic instruction and increasingly higher test scores."

Principal Sarah agrees. "I really feel fortunate that we had such a great team from WestEd. Noelle assisted us by looking at the data first, and then outlining how to accomplish the change process ourselves. WestEd empowered our teachers, helped us to define our own direction, and the resulting change was more systemic and sustainable. We truly value the relationship with WestEd. They helped us to look at our strengths, and also helped us move forward with positive change. That they supported my role as an education leader is proof that we have a true partnership."

For more information on Malcolm X Academy, visit the SFUSD Web site at http://www.sfusd.edu . Tables illustrating Malcolm X Academy's achievement (with disaggregated data) can be viewed at http://www.wested.org/cs/we/view/rs_press/39 . For more information on WestEd's SAIT, visit http://www.WestEd.org/SAIT .


1. Instructional Program: Do all teachers use the state-adopted materials for English and math every day?

2. Instructional Time: Do all students receive daily instruction for English language arts and math?

3. School Principal Instructional Leadership Training: Has the principal and vice principal completed English language arts and math professional development?

4. Credentialed Teachers and Professional Development Opportunity: Are all teachers fully credentialed? Have teachers completed professional development in English language arts and math?

5. Student Achievement Monitoring: Is the school implementing an achievement-based monitoring system to collect student data?

6. Ongoing Instructional Assistance: Do teachers receive instructional assistance in English language arts and math?

7. Teacher Collaboration: Do teachers regularly meet to review student assessment data and lesson planning?

8. Lesson Pacing: Do English language arts and math teachers follow a daily, weekly, and monthly plan for covering the right amount of material at the right time?

9. Fiscal Support: Does the school use funds to support the adopted English language arts and math programs?

*Adapted from the Academic Program Survey (APS) on the California Department of Education Web site: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/lp/vl/improvtools.asp


1. The school district chooses a state-certified SAIT provider.

2. A team comprising select teachers, school administrators, and district personnel is formed.

3. The team completes a detailed survey to evaluate how the school is performing on the nine components essential to student achievement.

4. The SAIT provider meets with the team to go over the survey results, and works with the team to create an action plan.

5. The SAIT provider presents the survey findings and action plan (with benchmarks) to the district's Board of Education, the State Superintendent, and the State Board of Education.

6. The SAIT provider helps the school and district begin implementing improvements and monitors progress, including site visits and data reviews at least three times per year.

7. Results are presented regularly to the district's Board of Education, the State Superintendent, and the State Board of Education.


About WestEd
WestEd, a national nonprofit research, development, and service agency, works with education and other communities to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. WestEd has 16 offices nationwide, from Washington and Boston to Arizona and California. Its corporate headquarters are in San Francisco. More information about WestEd is available at WestEd.org.

Additional Media Contacts
Fred Tempes
Director, Comprehensive School Assistance Program
Phone: 916.492.4039
Email: ftempes@wested.org