Update: Read Berkeleyside’s Jan. 28, 2020 deep dive on the situation at Longfellow.
Dec. 15, 2019 – The latest school performance numbers from the California Department of Education are out, and for Berkeley’s Longfellow Middle School, they’re not pretty. Time to call and email our school board members and ask them why.
Longfellow’s academic performance suffered a breathtaking drop last year, while Willard and King improved or held steady. The four-year contrast is even more embarrassing: Longfellow’s performance essentially collapsed, while Willard and King soared. Those schools now rank in the highest statewide academic performance category, while Longfellow ranks in the second to worst.
Here are the numbers (points above/below statewide standard):
And here’s the chart. For charts breaking down performance by student subgroup (race, ethnicity, English learners), see this page.
How can Berkeley justify having two middle schools performing this well, and a third performing this badly? It strains the credibility of our commitment to high quality public education.
There are clear and widely-known structural issues behind Longfellow’s multi-year decline, which I won’t attempt to describe here. But as a parent of a student there, I can tell you that this isn’t the fault of Longfellow’s excellent teachers and staff; or its students or their parents.
This is the fault of the district, and new superintendent Brent Stephens – along with the school board – must be held accountable for fixing it. They must stop finding ways to delay the hard work that must be done (as they seem to be doing so far this year). Berkeley’s middle school students can’t afford even another few months of kicking the can down the road.
Take a look at the official dashboards.
Below is the state dashboard data for the 2018-19 school year. For much more detail, click through to the actual performance dashboards for Longfellow, Willard, and King, as released by the California Dept. of Eduction on Dec 12th, 2019.