by Jesús Mena, Public Affairs
U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley toured a Richmond middle school Friday, Feb. 13, praising the Berkeley Pledge as a model of educational partnerships between universities and public schools.
"Imagine if these kinds of opportunities, these kinds of partnerships were available in every middle school," Riley said at a press conference at Adams Middle School. "If we could model this kind of partnership it could really make a difference."
At Adams, Riley joined Chancellor Berdahl, who announced first- year results of Berkeley Pledge math programs. Calling the findings "very exciting," Berdahl said that in general K-12 Pledge participants showed dramatic improvement on both standardized tests and report cards. For example, first graders at Washington Elementary School in Point Richmond, who had access to the Break the Cycle after-school math tutorial program, had a dramatic increase in standardized test rankings. They went from a low 30th percentile to over the 50th percentile mark.
"We have shown, with our school partners, that if children are given the opportunity and educational support they need to excel, there is no reason they cannot compete for admission to Berkeley by the time they graduate from high school," said Berdahl.
Berdahl, Riley and officials from the West Contra Costa County Unified School District, visited several classes, including a seventh grade English class where students were reciting Shakespeare.