Berkeley's Berkeley Pledge outreach program posts significant
gains in K-12 math and literacy
Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs
New data from the 1998-1999 school year reveals that students
participating in the Berkeley Pledge, a University of California,
Berkeley, K-12 outreach program, have posted impressive gains
in math, reading and writing.
example, third graders in a Washington Elementary School class
in Richmond who participated in a Pledge program called Break
the Cycle performed so well on a standardized math exam that
the class's ranking within the district rose from 30th to 9th.
successes continue to raise the program's stature as a national
model, and the Berkeley Pledge could guide anyone seeking to
turn around troubled schools.
helping children excel. These are children whom many in society
would have callously written off as not meriting a college education,"
said Anita Madrid, director of the Berkeley Pledge. "We
see some little ones whose lives are turned around in six months
to a year because they have hope and new skills."
Pledge, launched in 1995 as a partnership with Bay Area schools,
is guided by research, continual assessment and the in-the-trenches
work of undergraduate students, campus educators and K-12 teachers
the 1996-1997 school year, Pledge students made significant
improvements in math. In the 1997-1998 school year, they continued
their math achievements and also were offered Pledge programs
in literacy. In the 1998-1999 school year, students made marked
improvements in three areas - math, reading and writing.
addition to the third graders in Richmond, there are many success
stories connected with the Berkeley Pledge.
include the Cal Reads literacy program at Martin Luther King
Middle School in Berkeley, where every young participant saw
his or her reading scores climb; and a writing program at San
Francisco's Burton High School that helped 20 percent more ninth
graders pass the school district test. That writing program
was designed by teachers and the Pledge-funded Bay Area Writing
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley has hailed the Pledge
as a national model. And, the National Center for Urban Partnerships
recently selected Pledge Director Madrid to join an elite team
of education leaders who hold national training sessions to
help colleges and schools build partnerships.
the Berkeley Pledge, UC Berkeley educators and students offer
K-12 schools help with curriculum development, teacher training,
mentorships, summer school, in-class support and tutoring.
the first step that must take place before bringing any Pledge
program to a school is assessment. Campus educators meet with
the school's teachers and administrators to gauge their commitment
to improving education for all students.
officials also evaluate the school staff's willingness to redistribute
school finances toward that goal and their interest in changing
the structure and culture of their school so that, for example,
all remedial classes are dropped and every student is placed
in basic college-preparation classes.
Pledge requires continual evaluation of what is working, what
is not working and what needs to be changed before a particular
Pledge program will be expanded to another class or another
to Madrid, attempting to spread a successful program from one
school to another school in that same district is the real test
of a successful outreach program. That process is fraught with
challenges because a new school will entail a different group
of teachers, site administrators, students and resources.
foundation of the program is research, assessment and a commitment
by UC Berkeley educators to strengthen the academic performance
of all students by providing them with quality teachers and
the educational support they need.
think people default into thinking that children who aren't
performing aren't trying hard enough," said Madrid. "That
is such a myth. The truth is that some students have no role
models and no road maps to college. We give them both."