The looked at Academic Performance Index scores for schools where at least 70 percent of children qualify for free or reduced price lunches.
Of more than 3,000 public schools statewide that fit that description, the highest API score — 967 — was earned by American Indian Public Charter, a middle school in Oakland whose students are primarily Asian, black and Latino, and have a poverty rate of 98%. It was followed by its sibling, American Indian Public High School, with a score of 958.
. . . Ben Chavis, who took over American Indian Public Charter in 2001, when it was struggling academically and in danger of losing its charter, said there was no mystery to his schools’ success. It begins, he said, with at least 90 minutes a day of math and English, and a no-nonsense approach.
“These poor kids are doing well because we practice math and language arts,” he said. “That’s it. It’s simple.”
I’ve visited one of the top-scoring schools, KIPP Heartwood middle school (903) in San Jose. Critics say that motivated students apply. Well, that’s true now that it’s posted years of sky-high test scores, but I did a story for the Christian Science Monitor when the principal was recruiting students for the first fifth-grade class. These were not successful students. Delia, the girl in the story, had trouble reading; her older sisters were lackluster students. The parents had a few years of elementary school in Mexico.