When Delhi Unified School District’s new superintendent Brian Stephens took the reins seven months ago he kept hearing rumors that Delhi schools didn’t have the best reputation in the area.
“I would tell people that I work in Delhi and they would go ‘oh, that has to be rough.’ But the truth is the kids aren’t rough at all,” he said. “In all my years of being an educator I’ve never seen a more polite group of kids.”
Perhaps the “roughest” thing happening at Delhi schools is the tough core standards curriculum — but students, faculty and administration have answered back with some pretty tough academic results.
Of all school districts in the area — including Turlock Unified, Hilmar, Denair, Chatom and Keyes — Delhi is performing the best academically, based on the annual School Accountability Report Card.
The SARC serves as a compilation of information on schools and their respective academic performance as well as enrollment, demographic, discipline, facilities and basic financial information.
The bottom line of the report cards, however, is how a school is performing academically. This is known as the Academic Performance Index. The API is a comparison of Delhi schools to other schools in the state, factoring in important academic indicators of success such as graduation rates and assessments in English/ language arts and mathematics.
As a general rule, schools across the state strive to reach an API score of 800 based on a 0-1,000 scale. The state average for the 2010-11 school year was 778.
At the K-8 level, Schendel School in Delhi scored an 815, followed by El Capitan School with an 805 and Harmony School with a 787.
Delhi Unified consists of the three traditional K-8 schools and Delhi High School. Based on a 1-10 ranking system versus similar schools across the state, every school in the district scored an 8 or above with Schendel and El Capitan Schools reaching the perfect 10.
The high amount of success in Delhi’s K-8 schools is unique because of their high percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students, between 84 and 95 percent of students, and the number of English learners, between 72 to 84 percent of the student body.
The success is no surprise to Delhi teachers and administrators. Sue Gomes, director of curriculum and instruction, said the recipe for success in Delhi is largely made up of this little thing called hope.
“We just never give up on our kids, each and every one of them,” she said.
With a very low turn-over rate, the majority of Delhi teachers and administrators are English and Spanish bilingual — a perfect fit for a school district that is about 85 percent Hispanic.
“We teach the standards, evaluate data and concentrate instruction for the individual student. We celebrate even the smallest student achievements and we have created a college-going culture,” she explained.
The college-going culture is paying off. Delhi High School has a graduation rate of 93.3 percent compared to the state average of 80.44 percent. Delhi also had an 8 out of 10 ranking in comparison versus similar schools. Delhi has grown its API by 60 points over the past three years.
The only major concern for DUSD is the Delhi High math scores. Only 15 percent of students are proficient or advanced.
“We have some work to do, but I thing we can turn it around. We are sending Delhi High some really good kids from our lower levels,” said Stephens.