More of the same would mean more failure at James Lick High School in East San Jose. The school ranks in the bottom 10 percent in the state, even when it’s compared to schools with similar demographics: Most students are low-income Hispanics; one third aren’t fluent in English. Some 300 students have taken advantage of the No Child Left Behind Act to transfer to a neighboring school with a much better record.
So the superintendent replaced the management team at the school, which faces state and federal sanctions for its failure to improve. The new team of three co-principals has tightened discipline, added time for teacher collaboration, offered classes to help students pass the state graduation exam and decided to teach nothing but English and math to new students who are too far behind to do high school work. From the San Jose Mercury News:
More than half of incoming freshmen and 10th graders will take English and math — and little else. That’s three periods of English and two of math for a projected 60 percent of students who test two or more years behind grade level. If the budget permits an extended day, they’ll also get gym and an elective.
This unprecedented, seismic shift in students’ lives reflects the demand of the state Department of Education to reverse Lick’s abysmal test scores.
Math and English teachers will get more training. Incoming students will be tested to determine what classes they should take, instead of dumping everyone in algebra and ninth grade English.