How San Jose schools fared during COVID-19
Santa Teresa High School student Justin Jarvis stands on campus in April 2021. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    New report cards on Santa Clara County’s public schools during COVID -19 show most high school seniors graduated, suspensions disproportionately hurt students of color and some teachers are being priced out of the region.

    These are the findings of San José Spotlight’s analysis of the latest school accountability report cards, despite those reports omitting data about student test scores and absenteeism because of the pandemic. 

    After Santa Clara County imposed the first-in-the-nation shutdown order in March 2020, thousands of students began learning from their living rooms.

    While some students thrived under the new environment full of uncertainties, others dropped out. The county reported about 3,000 high school students left school last year without a degree.

    In response to the pandemic, California did not collect data such as test scores, chronic absenteeism and dropout rates for the past year’s school accountability report cards.  Without that data, the annual report cards mandated by state law to help parents and students monitor their school’s performance will be a “less useful tool” in the next year or two, some education leaders say.

    “The (state) test results data is the most noticeable that’s missing,” Glenn Vander Zee, superintendent of East Side Union High School District, told San José Spotlight.

    Vander Zee said schools will focus on students’ mental health needs and helping them achieve graduation when they return to campus in the fall after a year of distance learning.

    Here are five data points that capture how public schools in San Jose fared under COVID-19.

    Graduation rates

    Across the state, 86.6% of high school seniors in San Jose graduated this past year — despite grappling with the pandemic.

    Many local high schools surpassed that rate, though more than half of schools in East Side Union High School trailed behind.

    Distance learning, especially during the first few months of the pandemic, “had an impact on graduation rates,” Vander Zee said.

    Click through or use the search bar to find your school.

    College/career readiness

    While California did not require nor report test results for the past school year, the state did release college/career measure reports for 2019-20.

    The state considers students "prepared" for college or a career after high school if they meet standards in English and math, pass 15 required courses or at least two AP exams, and complete college courses or a career technical education pathway, among other measures.

    Click through or use the search bar to find your school.

    Suspension rates

    Suspension rate data is incomplete for the 2019-20 school year, and the state advises to not compare this year's data with previous years due to school closures under COVID-19. This includes both charter and non-charter schools.

    According to the data, Latinx, Black, Pacific Islander and Native American students in Santa Clara County saw disproportionate rates of suspension. Students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, English learners, migrants, disabled, experiencing homelessness and living in foster homes were also suspended much more frequently than the county's average.

    About 60% of all suspensions in the past year related to violent incidents, the data shows.

    Expulsion rates 

    Similar to suspension rates, expulsion rates for 2019-20 are not to be compared with other school years.

    Local K-12 schools in Santa Clara County expelled 59 students this past year, with 75% being male. Among all racial groups, Latinx students saw the highest expulsion rates. The data shows most expulsions were related to violent incidents.

    Out of those expulsions, 50 cases involved students with socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Teacher salaries

    With the high cost-of-living in San Jose continuing to rise, local teachers are priced out of the area or forced to leave the profession. A report released this week shows the San Jose metro area is the second most expensive rental market in the country.

    The cost-of-living also poses a challenge for districts to attract new qualified educators, San Jose Unified School District spokesperson Jennifer Maddox told San José Spotlight.

    The state collects teacher salary data on a voluntary basis. About 15% of districts across the state did not submit data for this year's report, according to the state.

    Data shows that a local educator in San Jose could earn between $57,426 and $134,944 a year, depending on their credential, years of experience—and their workplace. San Jose Unified School District ranks last in both average salary and lowest salary offered.

    Here's a look into how much San Jose school districts pay educators.

    Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

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