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Harding University Partnership School Celebrates Huge Gains in Achievement Scores

Principal Sally Kingston says collaborative teaching and community partnerships are making a difference on student testing

“Who got the scores up? You! You! You!”

The teachers, staff, students and community of Santa Barbara’s Harding University Partnership School, 1625 Robbins St., rejoiced Friday after hearing about their huge 57-point improvement in standardized testing scores.

When Principal Sally Kingston found out, she said she cried the entire day.

“It’s a public affirmation of what I see every day,” she said.

The learning has been good enough, Kingston said, but the results of collaborative teaching and community partnerships are finally showing up on standardized tests. She couldn’t help but compare other schools in the district, the county, then the state, and found Harding to be in the top tier of one-year jumps in scores.

“It will be transformative for our families and our kids,” she said.

Beyond a solid curriculum and skilled teachers, Kingston credits Harding’s unique programs: working with graduate students at UCSB, having kindergarteners who can read and count after preschool with Thrive Westside, and teaching students about social and cultural needs as well as academic through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. The school’s focus — and T-shirt slogan — is, “I’m going to college.”

When third-graders ask her why they should think about that now, Kingston tells them Latino students are underrepresented in higher education and they should have every opportunity to pursue their dreams. Higher education requires early success, confidence in themselves as learners, and an aspiration to go there, she said.

Harding Principal Sally Kingston talks about the school's community programs designed to help students improve each year.
Harding Principal Sally Kingston talks about the school’s community programs designed to help students improve each year. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“You matter and we believe you can do it,” Kingston said. “The scores make that into a reality. ... It’s important to me. It means there are more believers.”

The improved scores show the tangible result of the school’s hard work over the years, Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dave Cash said, adding that it’s a school that didn’t get much attention in the past, and its connections to UCSB and Thrive Westside bring the community together behind student achievement.

The number of adults at Friday’s celebration was telling of the community support, and even Cash couldn’t resist shouting along to “Go Hawks!”

“It’s exciting to just watch it take off,” he said.

The Goleta Union School District doesn’t have any Title 1-funded schools so cannot have program improvement classifications, but only Foothill and Mountain View schools met all criteria in both English-language arts and mathematics.

Montecito Union School, with kindergarten to sixth grade, meets the target for students at grade level for both English-language arts and mathematics and is not in program improvement. Its 960 Academic Performance Index score exceeds the statewide goal of 800.

The Hope Elementary School District has one school, Hope, in program improvement while the other two — Monte Vista and Vieja Valley — had steady or improved scores. Cold Spring School dropped 10 points from 2010, to 951, but still met all its targets.

Click here to look up specific school or district scores.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

2011 SBUSD Achievement Scores


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