Voices-Morgan Hill among top Bay Area schools

List identifies schools that lower the achievement gap

A trio of South County schools—two in Gilroy and one in Morgan Hill—were named among the top schools in the Bay Area for lowering the achievement gap, according to the fourth annual research report issued by non-profit Innovate Public Schools.

Voices College Bound Language Academy at Morgan Hill, as well as Gilroy Unified School District’s Rod Kelley Elementary School and Navigator Schools’ Gilroy Prep School, made at least one of the report’s 2019 Bay Area Top Schools Lists.

Gilroy Prep, a charter school authorized through GUSD, and Voices-Morgan Hill, another charter school authorized through the Santa Clara County Office of Education, were in the top nine of Top Public Elementary Schools for Low-Income Latino Students for Math Proficiency.

“Navigator has a strong focus on closing the achievement gap, so being highlighted by Innovate Public Schools for our efforts is incredibly motivating,” said Kirsten Carr, director of engagement and partnerships for Navigator Schools. “Our data-driven approach to personalizing learning for all students is at the heart of our academic model, and our dedicated team of educators is constantly putting those practices into action.”

Gilroy Prep was fourth on the list, with 58 percent of its low-income Latino students achieving math proficiency in the 2017-18 school year, while Voices-Morgan Hill was ninth on the same list, with 52 percent math proficiency among its low-income Latino students. Gilroy Prep has 43 percent low-income Latino enrollment; Voices-Morgan Hill is at 83 percent.

“This award is very special to us,” said Voices-Morgan Hill principal Juan Carlos Villasenor. “Through weekly (and) daily analysis, the Voices Morgan Hill team is able to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of each student in the classroom. Through quarterly data analysis we determine standards that need to be retaught whole class, small groups and in one to ones.”

Rod Kelley, a K-5 traditional public school in Gilroy, came in at No. 15 on that list with a 48 percent math proficiency rate among its low-income Latino student population. Rod Kelley has a 53 percent low-income Latino enrollment.

“Recognitions like this one validate all of the hard work our staff and students put in year-around,” said Rod Kelley principal Maritza Salcido. “Our teachers have very high expectations of all students, and collaborate at a high level to ensure that all students have access to the curriculum.”

GUSD Superintendent Deborah Flores noted that Rod Kelley was recognized by Innovate Public Schools in 2017 and “continues to work hard to close the achievement gap for our students.”

Gilroy Prep was also second on the top elementary schools list for English proficiency among low-income Latino students, with a 74 percent achievement rate, according to the 2019 Innovate Schools report.

Gilroy Prep, a K-8 charter school, also qualified in the middle school division and was No. 1 in both with a 60 percent math proficiency and an 87 percent proficiency among its low-income Latino students.

To qualify for the Innovate Public Schools lists, a school must have achieved results for low-income Latino or African American students that outperform the statewide average for all students in one or more areas, including math and English scores and college eligibility rates. The school must also maintain low suspension rates.

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