For years Bridges Academy at Melrose in Oakland struggled to increase test scores. This year they nearly made it to the 800 point mark. That is the bench mark set by the state in order to be considered a high quality school. It hasn't been easy. Nearly 85 percent of the students here are English learners.
"Just working very collaboratively as a school and we had a focus when we reviewed our assessment data, everyone participated," says principal Clara Tarango.
Extra help was given to those who needed it.
When California began tracking schools in 2001, only 20 percent of them were at or above the 800 mark. This year 46 percent reached it. And it's clear that elementary schools are doing much better than the high schools. Only 25 percent of them have hit that target.
Troy Flint of the Oakland Unified School District says much emphasis has been placed on the younger kids.
"And now those kids are entering middle school and we are starting to see the gains at the middle school level. We are hopeful that we will see the gains at high school when this generation of student reaches that stage of their education careers," says Flint.
Other schools are trying to do a number of things to try to improve scores. For example, in Oakland, two middle schools have decided to extend their school day.
United for Success Academy is one of them. Thanks to a three-year federal grant the school will work with Citizen Schools, a non-profit that will run an extended academic program.
"And really supplementing what goes on during the school day, knowing the standards, knowing the pacing guides, knowing what the students are working on in class and reinforcing that learning and allowing practice time," says Tamara Osivwemu from Citizen Schools.
This way they make sure that no one is left behind.