SF test scores rise after funding boost

By Jill Tucker | SF Chronicle

With new standardized test scores in hand Friday, San Francisco school officials answered a question long debated in the world of education: Does more money make a difference?
The answer was yes.

Nine of the city's lowest-performing schools received about $5 million each in federal funding over three years to boost test scores. Overall, their academic achievement scores shot up.

At the nine schools, 37 percent of students reached proficiency in English during the 2011-12 school year, compared with 29 percent the year before.

In math, scores climbed to 33 percent proficient or above, up from 25 percent.

"Money has made a difference," said Everett Middle School Principal Richard Curci, whose school saw dramatic gains in English and math scores this year.

Curci was quick to note, however, that the money was focused on promoting effective teaching and the use of frequent in-class evaluations to make sure students were actually learning.

The 2011-12 school year was the first full year of School Improvement Grant funding for Everett and the other eight schools. The first installment didn't arrive until midway into the 2010-11 school year.

The money has paid for teacher training, classroom coaches, counselors, literacy tutoring, nurses, librarians, summer school, parent liaisons, supplies and more.