Fresno Students are Falling Behind in Early Grades

Inform our Community Vision to Improve Student Outcomes

Preparing our students for the college and the career of their choice starts in the early grades. If our children are not reading and doing math on grade level in the 3rd and 8th grades, they face an uphill battle to being on grade level by the time they finish high school. According to the latest data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which California uses to measure student performance, it is clear that Fresno has a lot of work to do to prepare students to succeed in school.

Only by looking at the data about how students are doing today can we begin to develop a plan and take action to ensure every student graduates from Fresno Unified prepared to succeed in college, work and life.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

As part of our Choosing our Future 2.0 work, we are examining data about where we are now so we can face where we are, and the next step will be engaging our community in setting a vision for what our schools need to look like in the future to improve student outcomes so we can begin to change it.

Today in Fresno Unified, nearly 70 percent of students are not proficient in English and nearly 80 percent are not proficient in Math. For our Black and Hispanic students, those numbers are even worse.

Students with special needs and English Learners have exceptionally low rates of proficiency in Fresno. Only 5 percent of students with special needs are performing on grade level in English Language Arts, compared to 31 percent of all students.

Almost all of our peer districts–most of which are similarly sized school districts with high proportions of vulnerable student subgroups–outperform our students in reading and math.

While some other districts have similar rates to those of Fresno Unified, a handful of districts show what is possible.  The chart below shows some promising results from other large California districts, most notably Garden Grove, San Francisco and Long Beach.

Just as Fresno has in the past, we must continue to implement best practices from around the city, the state and the country to make sure every child in Fresno receives a high quality education.

This post builds on the blog on college and career readiness that I recently published. The blog highlighted the considerable work that remains to be done in making sure our students are not only graduating from high school, but are graduating ready for college and career.

As part of Choosing Our Future 2.0, we are committed to developing a thorough and transparent accounting of how we have grown, where we still need to grow, and what has changed about the world our graduates are entering. GO Fresno wants to hear as many opinions as possible about this and other questions. Whether you’re a Fresno Unified student, parent of a student or someone who cares for a student, what do you think?

If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to fill out our Choosing Our Future 2.0 Community Survey.

If you want to join in our Choosing Our Future 2.0 community conversation gatherings this fall, please be sure to sign up for our email list at the bottom of this page so we can keep you informed!

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