The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) recognizes schools throughout the county for measurable success in closing the achievement gap between lower and higher performing students. “SJ2020” is the collaborative vision of the City of San Jose, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, school districts, charter schools, colleges, and business and nonprofit community agencies to join together to eliminate the achievement gap in San Jose by 2020. The “achievement gap” refers to the disparity in academic performance between two groups: lower-performing Hispanic/Latino and African-American students, and higher-performing Asian and White/non-Hispanic students. Sunnyvale Middle School (SMS) will be recognized at the SJ2020 Annual Meeting on January 19, 2012 for its impressive efforts toward eliminating the student achievement gap, based on the school’s 2011 California Standards Test (CST) results.
SJ2020 uses 8th grade algebra test scores as a key measurement of student achievement. SCCOE’s analysis shows Sunnyvale Middle School has successfully reduced the 8th grade algebra achievement gap from 42% in 2009 to 18% in 2011. Additionally, 72% of SMS’ Latino students who took the Algebra I CST in 2001 scored proficient or above. Sunnyvale Middle School will be presented with the “2020 Vision” Award and the school’s key strategies in this area will be published in the SJ2020 Annual Report.
Dorothy Abreu-Coito, principal at Sunnyvale Middle School, believes the secret to success is two-fold: dedicated, hard-working teachers and strategic planning to meet students’ individual learning needs. Algebra I teachers offer before-school or after-school tutorials to 8th grade students who need extra help; tutorials are offered at least once a week for part of the school year. These students are at grade level in Algebra I but still struggle with basic math facts and new algebraic concepts.
Algebra I teachers also work as a team, using the same assessment tools for their students, analyzing student progress and identifying individual learning styles. Teachers collaborate regularly to modify their strategies and lessons, and arrange small-group instruction to better meet each student’s needs. Algebra I teachers set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals for each of their students for key standards in Algebra, which allows for careful and methodical tracking of student progress and response to instruction.
Update: This article has been updated to include the photograph below.
Article by Nina Wong-Dobkin with assistance from Dorothy Abreu-Coito