The Daily Beast and Newsweek have named Alhambra Unified School District's San Gabriel High School one of the top 25 most transformative schools in the country based on academic performance and its low-income student body.
"It’s no secret that schools in poor neighborhoods often struggle. But some achieve a remarkable amount in relation to the poverty of their communities," writes The Daily Beast.
The school has high academic achievement — a 94 percent graduation rate and 96 percent college-bound graduate rate, according to Newsweek — while still serving students from lower incomes. Almost 90 percent of the San Gabriel High student body is on free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of socio-economic status in American schools.
According to Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Mark Keppel High School's graduation rate is almost as high at 94 percent, and 85 percent of its graduates go to college. The high school serves a higher income population, however, with 62 percent of its students on subsidized or free lunch. Alhambra High School's graduation rate is lower, at 88 percent, and 89 percent of the graduates are college bound. Sixty-seven percent of Alhambra High students receive subsidized or free lunch.
San Gabriel High has significantly improved its Academic Performance Index — a score based on California's standardized testing — over the past few years, increasing its score by 128 since 2007. School Principal Jim Schofield, the former assistant principal at Mark Keppel High School has implemented new programs to improve test scores, including parent involvement, rewards for improvement, faculty and staff professional development, and the restructuring of the mathematics program. To motivate students to score higher, Schofield promised that if San Gabriel High met the state's API goal of 800 points in 2012, he would spend 24 hours on the school's roof. They scored 811.
"It's to say thank you for all the hard work," Schofield said on the roof in a video produced by The Matador, the school's newspaper. "We're judged by these test scores, which in a lot of ways isn't fair because there are so many other great aspects about our school."