View Full Version : All SF San Francisco's Mission High School on a mission to change minds

04-14-2013, 10:40 AM
From S.F. Gate (http://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/S-F-school-on-a-mission-to-change-minds-4431616.php) by Jill Tucker:

Four years ago, Aleksandr Faynleyb and his parents actually cried when the then-eighth-grader opened the packet from San Francisco Unified School District saying he'd been assigned to Mission High School.

They were sad tears, not happy tears.

Mission for years has been considered one of the district's "bad" schools, with the lowest of low test scores, and definitely not the place college-bound kids would want to go.

But if Mission High were a book, it would have an awful cover that offers little insight to what's inside.

And it is a cautionary tale, students said, of how statistics and test scores don't always tell the whole story of a school.

Faynleyb, now 18, had to choose from 10 universities that accepted him.

He's decided to attend UC Berkeley and will have plenty of company from the other 29 Mission High classmates accepted to Cal for the fall - nearly 15 percent of the school's class of 2013.

That's more than double the 13 students accepted to Cal last year and quadruple the seven in 2011.

Nearly 90 percent of the class has been accepted to at least one college or university and the vast majority will go, school officials said.

"I think we're beginning to see the fruits of the work here," said Principal Eric Guthertz. "Cal knows the kids are going to be strong students when they get there."

Like many of the Mission students, Faynleyb "completely" attributes his long list of college choices to his time at Mission.

"I feel like there has always been a stigma against Mission," he said. "If I didn't go to this school, I wouldn't have had half the opportunities I've had."

Behind the scores

So why the low test scores?

Nearly half the 900 students are English learners, many new to the United States with little to no fluency in the language, and about 70 percent are low income, both of which typically align with low test scores.

In addition, 18 percent of the students are in special education programs, significantly higher than the average 10 or 11 percent at most schools in the state.

While these students often don't test well, they can excel in classes where they have more time and confidence to do the work, while gaining language fluency.

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