In today’s economy, most good jobs require a college education. However, the majority of Latino and low-income students in Redwood City currently aren’t on track to graduate high school eligible for college. The latest state test scores show that these students are being left behind in school from the earliest grades.

Redwood City Trails Other Communities in Elementary Grades

Students in Redwood City elementary schools scored behind their peers across the region on the 2014-15 state tests.Innovate_Graphs_r8_v2-3

Redwood City Elementary District serves more than the regional average number of low-income and Latino students. Across this district, which serves 5,808 Redwood City students in the lower grades, only 26 percent of low-income students met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts, compared to the Silicon Valley average of 32 percent. Further, only 29 percent of Latino students met or exceeded these standards in comparison to the Silicon Valley average of 33 percent for this group. This trend is repeated in math, with 18 percent of low-income and 21 percent of Latino students meeting or exceeding standards, compared to the region averages of 24 and 23 percent, respectively.

Among the 16 public elementary schools in Redwood City, few posted strong test scores last year. Redwood City Elementary District has six schools in the bottom 20 percent of Silicon Valley schools for low-income students in both English Language Arts and math. Two new charter public schools opened in the fall, but test scores won’t be available for those schools until next year.

Students Fall Behind Early and It’s Hard to Catch Up

Learning to read by third grade is a critical milestone for students. If students can’t read well at this point, they start to miss out on learning across all subjects, from science to history. In Redwood City School District, only one out of every four Latino third grade students are meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts.

In math, only 28 percent of Latino third-graders are meeting or exceeding standards. The rate is even lower for Latino eighth-graders at 18 percent, or approximately one out of every five students. Eighth grade is when students move from arithmetic to mastering algebra, a key milestone for moving on to the higher level math required by colleges.

High School Options are Stronger

Most Redwood City high school students attend Sequoia Union High School District, which also serves the communities of East Palo Alto, Woodside, and Menlo Park.

2a RWC SBACOverall, Sequoia Union is doing better than many school districts in the Bay Area at preparing students for college. At Sequoia Union schools, as in high schools across the state, students must take and pass 15 classes, called the A-G requirements, in order to be eligible to attend a California state university (UC or CSU).

In 2013-14, Sequoia Union’s graduation rate roughly equaled the Silicon Valley average, including the rates for low-income and Latino students, but a higher percentage of Sequoia Union students had completed the A-G requirements. For instance, 39 percent of Latino students in Sequoia Union graduated eligible for college compared to the Silicon Valley average of 31 percent.

However, like most districts across California, there are huge gaps between different groups of students and far too many are being left behind. For example, in Sequoia Union, 39 percent of Latino graduates are eligible for 4-year college, compared to 77 percent of white students and 85 percent Asian students.

Some Schools are Bucking the Trend

Some Redwood City schools are doing better than others in serving low-income and Latino students. In Redwood City Elementary District, North Star Academy and Roy Cloud Elementary are scoring above the region average in both English Language Arts and math, including for low-income and Latino student subgroups. However, both schools serve very low percentages of these students compared to the district average and North Star is a special program for high-performing students that requires an entry exam.

Summit Preparatory Charter High and Carlmont High have the strongest scores among high schools in the area. At Summit, 82 percent and 49 percent of students are meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts and math, respectively. In addition, 71 percent of the low-income students at Summit are meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts and 34 percent in math. Seventy-four percent of all Carlmont High students are meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts and 58 percent in math. Low-income students at Carlmont also show strong performance, with 56 percent meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts and 21 percent in math.

Source of data: Data from 2014-15 state test results: California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. 2015 Test Results for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. Accessed 9.24.15.