East Palo Alto schools in serious trouble

February 27, 2008 7:28:44 PM PST
Among those districts in serious trouble is the Ravenswood City School district in East Palo Alto. They' have failed to meet their targets and questions remain on what will be done to save that district.

Ravenswood City School District has serious challenges. For starters, 72 percent of their students are Latinos, which means most are English learners.

"When you are assessed in English only, it's kind of hard to do well in English assessment and that has been a huge challenge for us," says Maria de La Vega, District Superintendent.

The second challenge is dealing with the high teacher turnover. 80 percent of teachers here have less than three years of teaching experience.

As a result of these challenges, Ravenswood has not met its academic achievement targets as required by 'No Child Left Behind.'

Governor Schwarzenegger and Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O'Connell toured a Sacramento school and made recommendations to improve school districts like Ravenswood.

"California really does have an obligation to uphold federal law, and at the same time, I am pleased that we've made closing the achievement gap a top priority," says O'Connell.

Ravenswood is now one of six districts in the state that falls under the Department of Education's 'intensive' category, which means they need close attention and support. They will now be assigned a District Assistance and Intervention Team known as "DAIT."

"It's a team that goes in and works with districts. we are going to be focusing on the curriculum new curriculum, the adopted text books, making sure the teachers have the professional development they need, making sure that we are able to look at the date to see where the real needs are," says Cheryl Hightower, San Mateo County of Education.

That partnership is expected to last for a few years. However, these are recommendations made by the Governor and O'Connell. The State Board of Education must now approve them. Districts will have the chance to give their input next month.