Uploaded: Wed, Jun 29, 2011, 11:05 am
Summit Prep cited as 'transformative' high school
Local public charter high school is named in Newsweek's magazine annual listing of the
Newsweek magazine has named Summit Preparatory Charter High School one of 10 "transformative" high schools in its annual report on the "best" public high schools in the United States.
Newsweek rankings of the 500 "best" public high schools is based on information from the 1,100 schools that responded to the magazine's annual survey.
The "transformative" label is based on three principal factors: high academic performance, a substantial number of students qualifying for federally subsidized lunches, and a policy of choosing students by lottery, Newsweek reporter Lauren Streib told the Almanac.
"The schools that did the most with the least," she added.
Requests to fill out an online 16-question survey went to between 10,000 and 15,000 schools, Ms. Streib said.
Menlo-Atherton and Woodside high schools received requests but did not respond, she said.
Summit, located in Redwood City, graduated its first senior class in 2007. A significant number of its students live or have lived in the Almanac's circulation area.
"We're really doing things that very few high schools in the country are doing, and that's exciting," Summit Executive Director Todd Dickson said in an email. In an interview, he said he was referring to Summit's practice of having every student take several advanced-placement (AP) classes, at least three AP exams, and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
But does Summit have an advantage in tending to attract students with high hopes and caring parents who help their children turn hopes into achievement? Mr. Dickson noted that Summit's freshman classes, on average, have lower standardized test scores from middle school than the average in the Sequoia Union High School District.
"If parents really cared, they would be doing better," he said. "(That issue) just doesn't hold water for our particular school."
Summit was one of two California schools designated as transformative. Texas had six.
Go to this link for statistics on Summit Prep.
Got to this link for the story.
In 2006, the Newsweek survey listed 1,231 "best" public high schools, including Menlo-Atherton High School.
The number of schools rose steadily until in 2010, there were more than 1,600, always including M-A. Starting in 2009, the list included Woodside High and Summit Prep.
Woodside Principal David Reilly said he recalled responding to something that seemed related to a survey request. Mr. Reilly and M-A Principal Matthew Zito did not respond to requests for comment on the 2011 list.
The list shrank because a new team took over, Ms. Streib, the Newsweek reporter, said. The magazine ended its joint effort with the Washington Post and enlisted an education advisory panel to work on a new formula to evaluate schools, Ms. Streib said. One panel member helped in compiling the data, she said.
The panel included Linda Darling Hammond, a noted professor in the education school at Stanford University and co-director of Stanford's School Redesign Network.
"I have not seen the Newsweek article and don't know how they came up with their ratings," Ms. Darling Hammond said in an email. "I did have a conversation with a Newsweek reporter about indicators they might consider beyond AP scores."
Previous Newsweek rankings relied significantly on the number of AP tests given at a school divided by the number of graduating seniors.
For 2011, what mattered were the average scores on AP and aptitude tests, the number of AP classes offered, how many AP tests were taken per graduate, and rates of high school graduation and entrance to college.
The formula will evolve, Ms. Streib said, adding that 2011 was "a transitional year" in this Newsweek tradition.
The Newsweek story mentions the 2010 movie "Waiting for Superman," a harsh critique of comprehensive schools and the teaching establishment with a notable local angle: it singles out Summit Prep for explicit praise and Woodside High for implicit criticism.
"I haven't seen that movie," Ms. Streib said. The story mentioned it because it attracted press and significant attention to the education system, she said.
Posted by A Parent
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm
Well, you gave it a try and the sarcasm to substance ratio was greatly improved - thank you;-) Actually, I know quite a bit about charter schools, and I do know that you are incorrect, the founding families preference was not eliminated after two years. It was eliminated after the law changed, requiring Summit to apply for charter under its local school district (it was originally chartered under Tuolomne County.) The SUHSD board insisted, and rightly so, that this practice of giving preference to "founding families" be stopped, however the sibling preference policy remained (and remains as far as I know) which continued the advantage for founding families as long as they kept having younger siblings wishing to enter...
As to the "lottery" - the students who enter the lottery are self-selected. They have parents or other adult supporters who have the knowledge and means to follow the lottery process. Yes, the lottery (except for the sibling policy and other preferences, such as those for children of teachers and staff)is otherwise fair. But the charters are not necessarily getting applications from some of the students who might be in most need of this type of academic environment.
In addition, Summit accepts students from all over SUHSD and outside of SUHSD (space permitting.) Students with few resources and who live a long way from Summit are unlikely to be able to attend due to lack of transportation. It is important for Summit supporters to understand that, whatever the benefits, it must be recognized that there is not equal access to this school by all students, and that some students are disadvantaged in both the application and transportation process.
That having been said, I must take exception to some of your other comments which I don't believe are based in fact. First of all, I don't believe enrollment is declining in any of the comprehensives. Although the birthrate peaked in the echo boom in 1991, which would suggest a decline in high school aged children now, schools on the Peninsula generaly have increasing enrollment.
Second, in one breath you advocate for appropriate education for students interested in the arts, and in the next breath you take aim at "plush performing arts centers." While I agree that MA's performing arts center is a bit plush (but my understanding is that the funding for that $25 million building was not all from bond money and that there was also joint use funding, but I could be wrong. Carlmont HS's performing arts building is quite nice and functional and cost $15million, by comparison), these facilities serve those very students who are interested in dance and music and theater. A student who is interested in drama, for example, but attends Summit, has no performing arts facilities on that campus (last I heard, they took the train down to Mountain View to use the Community School of Music & Art facility, which is a music facility, not suitable for drama, musical theater or dance...)
I would like to also know where you get your data about "high maintenance costs and high utilities costs." Newer buildings tend to have more efficient systems built under newer codes and a more stringent energy code. And I have not seen any underutilized facilities in SUHSD. In fact, a lack of facilities was a factor in the tussle over facilities for Everest, was it not?
Still on facilities - I toured the office building that Summit was originally housed in and I have also toured its current building, when it was High Tech High School, and I must say that the HTHS building was at least substantially remodeled to make it a more appropriate academic facility. How anyone was supposed create a successful academic environment in a building completely unsuited to that purpose was beyond me. Office buildings are designed for offices, not schools. Don't discount the value of good school design to the educational process.
There is nothing in the data to suggest that more smaller schools are cheaper than fewer larger schools. There is data to suggest that smaller learning communities are better for students, which is why I've noted that most large comprehensive schools have broken their student population into smaller learning communities.
I think we agree, as do most people, including the same school board and administrators you demean with your comments, that education reform is badly needed. But your comments about "royalty" are really inappropriate and suggest that you are choosing a very black/white, charter good/comprehensives bad point of view, which isn't going to forward the argument at all. Both comprehensives and charters have their place and the demonization of the SUHSD board and administration by the Summit and Everest supporters does nothing to further either the argument or the process of education reform. In the end, all will have to work together and the problems that charters are NOT solving will need to be addressed by proponents of charters. I think administrators and school boards understand that charters are here to stay, but until there is sufficient funding, the fighting in the mud over the scraps of funding is unbecoming and unhelpful. I hope we can get beyond that.