Thursday, June 27, 2013


How many times have you heard that?  SFUSD and much of the local media  repeat this falsehood whenever they get the chance.  So let's take a closer look at the real performance numbers.

As of the latest 2012 data from Ed Data, San Diego's LEA (overall) API is one, albeit insignificant, point higher. When you break down the  demographic data by ethnicity,  the differences between districts become apparent. With the exception of whites in LA, every other statistically significant ethnic group performs higher in both LA Unified and San Diego Unified. Whites in SFUSD have an 891 API compared with 896 in San Diego and 875 in LA. African Americans are 110  and 69 points higher in SD and LA, respectively. Asians perform 5 and 34 points higher. Latinos perform 52 and 30 points higher. Filipinos perform 58 and 48 points higher.

So why does SFUSD have an API on par with San Diego? There's one reason: It is the outsized Chinese population in SFUSD relative to other districts. This alone skews the statistics in favor of an overall higher district-wide API. It isn't SFUSD's education policies that are responsible for its high overall performance.  It's the demographic advantage with its large Asian/Chinese population. But even that performance, as I said earlier, lags behind both SDUSD and LAUSD. 

As we all know statistics can play funny tricks. When you look at the  actual numbers, not the headlines, SFUSD's contention as highest performing district is revealed to be a falsehood. When you  break performance down  by ethnic subgroups, SFUSD is a laggard. Why it is falling behind is a  topic for an upcoming post. But it has to do in part with the way SFUSD allocates its funding among schools.

SFUSD; California's highest performing urban school district? Not



Anonymous said...

Your numbers off hand seem correct when I crosschecked them on the API district search page. That's the same place you go to to check the school API, but instead look up the district, not the school. How does SFUSD manage to make this claim and avoid media scrutiny?

Don Krause said...

Not sure which source you're using but just go to

I don't know how to answer your question except to say that SF lacks any real reporting on these issues. The media just accept whatever SFUSD doles out in its press releases.

We're not keeping up and we spend more on the low end without much to show for it. As a result there's been a tremendous squeeze on the higher performing schools. Larger class sizes are the result and this dampens test scores, lowers morale, and drives the middle class out.

Anonymous said...

Any idea what SDUSD and LAUSD are doing to close the achievement gap for African American and Latino students?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for starting this blog

I drove by Kipp charter school the other day. They had a sign up "Best middle school in San Francisco, API 902"

That surprised me. Good for Kipp and its students. This shows that it can be done.

anonymous said...

great start with the blog!

Anonymous said...

I wish you luck with this new blog, Don. We need an education blog in this city. The sf k files is fine for assignment information. You did the right thing by starting a general ed blog which we have needed since the former SF K files shut down. Some of us have been in SF schools a long time and there's a whole other world of issues besides the preoccupation with assignment.

Thank you for exposing the SFUSD PR machine for what it is.

Don Krause said...

I appreciate the comments on the new blog. I realize that it is summer and interest in school related issues is at the low point of the year, meaning that I need to be patient for interest to develop. I plan to put up a few more posts during the summer and I plan to follow up on this post, as I alluded to previously.

I would like to correct one thing I said which is that the source of the information is Ed Data, not Dataquest. It is all derived from the Dataquest which I believe is from the CDE. So it's actually the same info, but the interface is a little different.

If any readers want to blog in this site, please let me know.

In the meantime, you may see changes to the layout as I get the time to learn more about the Blogger.

Anonymous said...


I can't wait to read your analysis of why SFUSD funding allocation puts us behind LA and San Diego.

Thanks for start the blog!

Finally, a place where we can talk without being censored!!

Don Krause said...

When I decided to open this blog, I decided that I would avoid writing long posts with highly technical info. This stuff never goes over well. It is necessary to present the data I will do so, but I will not be doing any "analyses", as such. Whatever points I will make will be done with the greatest economy possible with the intention of making a concise and specific point. There are great resources available for those that want in-depth analyses. Word of caution: I would avoid putting too much stocks in the facts and figures from SFUSD presentations to the Board. These are stilted to make SFUSD policies look good to the untrained eye. For example, The Superintendent made a presentation about the increase in API fro 2011-2012, but failed to explain the devil in the details. If you look at breakdowns in the numbers, some groups did poorly. Everyone is looking for a single number to latch onto. When the district is doing poorly, the leaders emphasize the outperforming subgroups. When the District is doing better they fail to remark about the underperforming subgroups.