By Ed Ring
In January 2010 the California’s legislature passed into law, perhaps uncharacteristically, an excellent new law. Entitled “Public schools: Race to the Top,” SB 54 created two mechanisms for parents to exert greater control over the education of their children.
There are two components:
(1) The Open Enrollment Act mandates that the California Department of Education to annually create a list of 1,000 schools ranked by their Academic Performance Index. Parents whose children are enrolled in these schools have the right to transfer them to a better performing school.
(2) The “Parent Trigger” Law, which allows parents to transform their own schools if 50% of parents sign a petition to seek a change at their chronically underperforming school.
Open enrollment has had an immediate benefit to California’s parents in poor schools, both because individually parents have been able to get their children out of poor schools, and also because the mere ability of parents to remove their students from poor schools provides a powerful incentive for school management to try harder to improve. From the California Dept. of Education, pursuant to SB 54, here is the list of the bottom 1,000 schools in California (Excel spreadsheet): Open Enrollment Schools List 2015–16. To view this list in PDF format, here is the the same list as posted by former state senator (and co-author of SB 54) Gloria Romero’s California Center for Parent Empowerment (PDF file): Open Enrollment Schools List 2015–16.
The parent trigger law has a potentially much greater impact, because it literally empowers parents to take over management of an underperforming school if a majority of them sign a petition. It is important to clarify that the criteria for an “underperforming school” is not the same as the criteria used for the 1,000 K-12 schools with the lowest Academic Performance Index scores. Here is how these lists are compiled:
Open Enrollment List:
Every year the results of standardized academic achievement tests, administered to every K-12 public school student, are compiled by school and by school district. In the most recent academic year, thecomposite score for these tests for all K-12 students in California was 790. The open enrollment list was supposed to be the 1,000 schools with the lowest scores. For example, on the current list, the lowest score belongs to Oakland International High School with an API of 374. But in the compromises made in order to pass the bill, among other things, the published list of open enrollment schools cannot include more than 10% of the schools in any given school district. This gives the worst school districts in the state a pass, and actually leads to some schools getting onto the list that probably don’t deserve to be there. Nonetheless, at least those parents whose children attend these 1,000 schools have choices, and that is a very good thing.
Parent Trigger Eligible List:
The parent trigger list is compiled according to a more complicated formula. In summary, the criteria is as follows: Any school that has an API lower than 800, AND has failed to improve its API score in each of the last four years, is a parent trigger eligible school. The process of accurately compiling this list is tedious, requiring the analyst to research multiple CA Dept. of Education reports for multiple years while navigating several exclusions that complicate the selection process. But there aren’t carve-outs that prevent, for example, 90% of the schools in an underperforming district from any accountability, such as is the case with the open enrollment list. Here is a list of Parent Trigger Eligible schools in Orange County, compiled by the organization Excellent Educational Solutions (PDF file):Trigger Eligible Schools in Orange County. The entire list is also posted on the table below – note that Palm Lane Elementary is not on this eligibility list because they have already been “triggered.” Also, some schools on the Orange County list have 3 year API averages that exceed 800. This can be because their most recent API has fallen below 800 even though the three year average is still above 800, or due to other complexities in the actual formula.
The parent trigger eligible list is a powerful resource that ought to be prepared and posted online every year by the California State Board of Education. As can be seen, there are 125 schools just in Orange County where the management of these schools can be potentially taken over by parents if 50% or more of them sign a petition. Imagine how many thousands of schools in California must be on a statewide list?
To-date, parent trigger has only been tried three times in California. In Compton, the effort ultimately failed. In Adelanto, the effort was successful (ref. Wikipedia “Parent Trigger” – Compton, Adelanto). Now the battle has moved to Palm Lane Elementary School in Orange County, where on January 14, 2015, petitions representing over 50% of the parents of the enrolled students were turned in.
When one examines the political consensus that was forged in the California Legislature back in 2010 by Democratic senator Gloria Romero and her Republican co-sponsor Bob Huff, what is evident is the astonishing power of bipartisanship on the issue of quality education. When one considers the parents who recently turned in petitions to transform Palm Lane Elementary School, and the broad spectrum of community activists who support them, again what is evident is the astonishing power of bipartisanship on the issue of quality education. SB 54 triggers not only parent empowerment, but alliances that transcend conventional politics. It is something to be watched and nurtured.
Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.
List of San Bernardino Under-Performing Schools
Updated November 6, 2014
California Department of Education
2015–16 Open Enrollment Schools List – Based on 2013 Growth Academic Performance Index (API)
Posted on November 4, 2014
School Type: E = Elementary, M = Middle, H = High
CDS Code County District School School Type 2013 Growth API
36676786035588 San Bernardino Chino Valley Unified Walnut Avenue Elementary E 750
36676786061840 San Bernardino Chino Valley Unified Ramona Junior High M 745
36676786098347 San Bernardino Chino Valley Unified Dickson Elementary E 738
36676786098362 San Bernardino Chino Valley Unified Anna A. Borba Fundamental Elementary E 772
36676866035679 San Bernardino Colton Joint Unified Paul Rogers Elementary E 719
36676866035745 San Bernardino Colton Joint Unified Woodrow Wilson Elementary E 714
36676866101034 San Bernardino Colton Joint Unified Alice Birney Elementary E 727
36676946035752 San Bernardino Cucamonga Elementary Cucamonga Elementary E 775
36677103630019 San Bernardino Fontana Unified Birch High (Continuation) H 584
36677103630480 San Bernardino Fontana Unified Citrus High (Continuation) H 534
36677106035836 San Bernardino Fontana Unified North Tamarind Elementary E 720
36677106068761 San Bernardino Fontana Unified Cypress Elementary E 716
36677106102933 San Bernardino Fontana Unified Tokay Elementary E 735
36677366035935 San Bernardino Helendale Elementary Helendale Elementary E 784
36677776035984 San Bernardino Morongo Unified Joshua Tree Elementary E 760
36677776036016 San Bernardino Morongo Unified Palm Vista Elementary E 797
36678016036115 San Bernardino Needles Unified Vista Colorado Elementary E 720
36678196036164 San Bernardino Ontario-Montclair Central Language Academy E 737
36678196036206 San Bernardino Ontario-Montclair De Anza Middle M 733
36678196036289 San Bernardino Ontario-Montclair Ray Wiltsey Middle M 735
36678196036297 San Bernardino Ontario-Montclair Kingsley Elementary E 735
36678436036537 San Bernardino Redlands Unified Lugonia Elementary E 809
36678436036594 San Bernardino Redlands Unified Victoria Elementary E 784
36678506036602 San Bernardino Rialto Unified Bemis Elementary E 717
36678506036636 San Bernardino Rialto Unified Dunn Elementary E 711
36678506059448 San Bernardino Rialto Unified Frisbie Middle M 720
36678686036743 San Bernardino Rim of the World Unified Valley of Enchantment Elementary E 780
36678760125450 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Unified Indian Springs High H 635
36678766036768 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Unified Arrowhead Elementary E 676
36678766036826 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Manuel A. Salinas Creative Arts Elementa E 677
36678766036867 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Unified Del Rosa Elementary E 691
36678766036958 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Unified Lincoln Elementary E 680
36678766037022 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Unified Mt. Vernon Elementary E 686
36678766059489 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Unified Del Vallejo Middle M 634
36678766061923 San Bernardino San Bernardino City Unified Martin Luther King Jr. Middle M 676
36679186105860 San Bernardino Victor Elementary Liberty Elementary E 720
36679186110522 San Bernardino Victor Elementary Green Tree East Elementary E 719
36679340125419 San Bernardino Victor Valley Union High Adelanto High H 657
36679596037410 San Bernardino Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified Dunlap Elementary E 730
36679596037428 San Bernardino Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified Valley Elementary E 718
36738906035455 San Bernardino Silver Valley Unified Yermo Elementary E 793
36739570110718 San Bernardino Snowline Joint Unified Vista Verde Elementary E 761
36739576036461 San Bernardino Snowline Joint Unified Phelan Elementary E 740
36750446035968 San Bernardino Hesperia Unified Eucalyptus Elementary E 736
36750446059547 San Bernardino Hesperia Unified Hesperia Junior High M 712
36750446108112 San Bernardino Hesperia Unified Hollyvale Elementary E 731
36750516035976 San Bernardino Lucerne Valley Unified Lucerne Valley Elementary E 719
36750696037220 San Bernardino Upland Unified Citrus Elementary E 801
36750696037287 San Bernardino Upland Unified Upland Elementary E 809
36750770122945 San Bernardino Apple Valley Unified Phoenix Academy E 720
36750773631009 San Bernardino Apple Valley Unified High Desert Premier Academy H 490