Ketiyanah Dennis, 17, was once an underachiever, but no more.
“I know I can do more so it’s just a kind of push yourself thing,” said Dennis.
She had a 1.9 grade point average as a freshman and now has a 3.0 as a senior at Stockton's Health Careers Academy High School.
“I had a lot of teachers and counselors you know like, ok, so what is something we can do to get you to school or what is something we can do to get you to do your homework," added Dennis.
But even with Ketiyanah’s success story, the Stockton Unified School District can use more help.
With a poverty level at more than 80 percent for the student population, the district also struggles with some of the worst overall test scores in the state. But under the new California School Dashboard, schools will no longer get state assistance solely based on test scores.
There are other things that factor into this as well.
Under the color coded system, the state breaks down students into about a dozen subgroups, such as African American students or homeless students. It then rates the groups on four different categories: Academic test performance, suspension rates, graduation rates and success at teaching English to those who can’t speak it.
Earning a red color in any two categories will get a school additional state help. However, Stockton Unified will only get that help with its disabled students.
“I think we’re pretty good at identifying our own areas of need,” said Dan Wright, interim Superintendent with the Stockton Unified School District.
Wright says that right now the dashboard is neither fair nor unfair. He also says what the district needs most are additional resources.
“They need intervention teachers, they need more counselors, our teachers need more training to be able to address the needs of our students,” he continued.
University of the Pacific professor Linda Skrla is the Department Chairwoman for the School of Education. She has spent 20 years studying state accountability systems.
She says when it comes to the dashboard, not focusing only on test scores is a good thing, but can also has a negative impact.
“Having set up the trigger for assistance requiring meeting more than one low threshold really disadvantages sometimes the most needy students in Stockton’s case it seems to be Latino subgroup students,” she said. “I think we’re pretty good at identifying our own areas of need.”
The district says one factor the dashboard isn’t measuring this year, but will in the future is students who are absent more than they should be. In Stockton Unified, it’s nearly one in every five students.
Ketiyanah was once one of those statistics, but now she has her sights set on becoming a nurse.
“By being a nurse or something like that I can help,” she said.