How are students and schools doing in West Contra Costa?
The report shows students are not making progress. Large achievement gaps still persist among students from different ethnic and economic backgrounds. There is an urgent need for data-driven evaluation of all programs and reforms in our public schools.
Stay tuned for the report in Spanish in the coming weeks.
PRESS RELEASE: New Data Report on the Progress and Performance of West Contra Costa Students and Schools Released by GO Public Schools WCC
RICHMOND, CA – Today, GO Public Schools West Contra Costa released its second annual West Contra Costa Kids Can report, which analyzes students’ performance in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, in addition to post-secondary outcomes at Contra Costa Community College. The data reveals a crisis and immediate need to better serve low income students, English Learners, and students of color in West Contra Costa.
This year’s report urgently recommends that the leaders and decision-makers of West Contra Costa public schools drive all planning, monitoring, and evaluation of programs, interventions, and services for students with strong evidence and data.
“Across West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) and public charter schools in our community, our students’ 2016-17 English Language Arts (ELA) and math scores declined from the previous year. This is unacceptable and the exact opposite direction we should be moving,” said Natalie Walchuk, Executive Director of GO Public Schools West Contra Costa. “We hope our second annual student outcomes report is used widely by community members and advocates as a tool and catalyst to change the way decisions and investments are made.”
The report reveals that the percentage of students on-level in Kindergarten stays low and flat through elementary, middle, and high school — hovering overall at just 1 in 3 students proficient in ELA and 1 in 4 in math. Meanwhile, the performance gap between West Contra Costa students and students across California and Contra Costa County widens each year.
“As a product of this district, a parent of children in West Contra Costa public schools, and a social worker at a district high school, it’s really hard to see in this report that so many of our Latino, African American, and English Learner students are still experiencing huge gaps in achievement. After more than a decade, things still have not changed since I graduated from Kennedy in 2003,” said Lucero Garcia, a graduate of GO West Contra Costa’s Family Leaders Program. “The system needs to change. We need data to be at the center of all decisions about how programs are chosen and how resources are used — and this needs to happen immediately. Our students cannot afford to wait.”
This year’s report includes data provided by WCCUSD and charter operators that is not otherwise publicly available. New information includes average student GPA by high school, eighth grade math course enrollment, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) course enrollment, and ninth grade course performance.
Nearly half (44 percent) of all ninth graders in West Contra Costa received at least one D or F grade last school year.
“This second annual report empowers all of us — as community members, educators, and decision makers — to make informed, data-driven decisions for students,” said WCCUSD Board of Education member Tom Panas. “Our district has so many dedicated teachers and schools working hard to ensure our kids have a quality education. But until all students in West Contra Costa are achieving at high levels and have access to strong opportunities for college and career, we must use data like this to focus our investments where they’re most urgently needed and hold ourselves accountable to the highest standard in serving students and families.”
In 2016-17, only eight out of 537 English Learner eighth graders (1.5 percent) met math standards. In eleventh grade, only seven English Learner students (1.6 percent) did.
“As a former English Language Learner in this district, I know firsthand the challenges that many of our students and families face,” said Sheila Ramirez, former WCCUSD School Community Outreach Worker, district graduate, mother of two children enrolled in district schools, and GO’s Outreach Coordinator. “It is critical that we work to empower parents and support their leadership development so they can advocate for all students. It will take the whole community’s leadership to change the heartbreaking and unacceptable realities we see in this report.”
Low income students (defined as students whose families earn below 185 percent of the federal poverty line) make up most of the total student population in West Contra Costa’s district-run schools (70 percent) and charter schools (81 percent). English Learners make up approximately one-third of students. These student groups often experience and have historically experienced significant gaps in academic achievement and life opportunities.