At Innovate Public Schools, we love to recognize the schools that are making sure that students who have historically been underserved are appropriately prepared to reach their full potential and succeed in college, careers and beyond. We love to celebrate schools that show what all students can achieve and what a great school looks like.

But we wish there were so many more of them.

As the Director of Research and Policy, I work with school performance data every day. I see the huge gaps in achievement between low-income and more affluent students and between students of different racial/ethnic groups, but I never get used to those gaps. Rather, it becomes increasingly clear that the way our low-income, African-American and Latino students continue to be underserved by schools is something close to criminal.

Our mission at Innovate Public Schools is to work towards making a world-class education available to all students, no matter their economic status, zip code, or race/ethnicity. We highlight schools that have closed the gaps and share what they’re doing right for underserved students, so that more schools can deliver a great education for all kids.

Students in class reading with teacher helping (selective focus)

Students in class reading with teacher helping (selective focus)

We also work to make sure all parents have easy-to-understand data about how schools in their community are doing, including for children like theirs.  We’ve partnered with GreatSchools to put this kind of data in the hands of more parents.

In early May 2016, GreatSchools released lists of top high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area for Latino and African American students. Schools made the list if students in these groups scored higher than the state’s average scores on standardized tests and completed the necessary requirements to enter a California State University or the University of California upon graduation. In their analyses, GreatSchools found that, out of total of 213 Bay Area public high schools, only a small fraction meet the criteria for their list. On their list of top high schools for Latino students, only 14 met their criteria; and just 15 high schools met the criteria on their list of schools serving low-income students well.

GreatSchools’ lists reinforce the findings of our Top Schools report, released in November 2015. In our report, we conducted an analysis of Bay Area public schools in search of those with a notable percentage of low-income African American and Latino students who were scoring higher on the state tests than the state average for all students. Out of 573 schools serving a large percentage of these student groups across the Bay, we identified just 54 top public schools that performed well for these students. We hosted a great event to celebrate these schools’ and students’ accomplishments. This gave us a sense of how Bay Area public schools are doing at educating underserved students, but also clearly showed that we still have a long way to go.

The good news is that there are a number of public schools in the San Francisco Bay Area that are doing a great job preparing low-income, African American, and Latino students for college and careers.

The bad news is that there are far too few of them.