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Student in Black Star Rising program working on math project at desk in classroom

Black Star Rising program elevates student learning

06/21/19

Tyson Richardson, a rising sophomore at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, knows firsthand the value of education during the summer. “What I learned here last year helped me to pass my algebra classes. When it came time to learn about algebra during the school year, my assignments refreshed my memory of what I already learned in the summer.”

Tyson is one of 92 participants in this year’s Black Star Rising STEM (BSR) program at Balboa High School. In its third year, BSR is a cohort-based high school readiness and success program designed to prepare rising African American 9th, 10th, and 11th graders for STEM careers through direct math and science instruction, career exposure, credit recovery, early college coursework, and an introduction to workplace readiness skills.

Students receive this support during the course of a six-week summer program along with case management and quarterly check-ins led by SFUSD staff during the regular school year.

Linda Martley-Jordan, African American Post-Secondary Pathways Manager for the African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative (AAALI), champions the program’s unique approach to learning. “The teaching model used in the classroom includes culturally relevant pedagogies that allow students to have ownership in the learning process. This model allows them to gain a wider array of knowledge while making sure they are on track for graduation.”

Last year, 78% of students from the class of 2022 who attended BSR’s 2018 summer session received an A, B, or C in the fall for Algebra 1. Eighty-two percent of students from the class of 2022 who attended BSR’s 2018 summer session finished their freshman fall semester on-track.

BSR is a ground-breaking partnership between AAALI and the Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Department’s College & Career Readiness team.

For rising 9th graders, the six week program will focus on algebra readiness, project-based learning, and health. Through the Mathematics, Engineering & Science Achievement (MESA) project, students will learn the physics of flight and use math to design and build their own balsa wood planes. The students will go on to compete to see whose plane can stay in the air and fly the furthest at the conclusion of the program. Students will also have the opportunity to get ahead and satisfy their health credit for graduation to allow space in their high school schedule to take another elective.

In addition to our credit recovery students, rising 10th and 11th grade students who are on track for graduation will receive a high-level math class taught by a SFUSD National Board Certified Math teacher, and participate in a Dual Enrollment Makers Math STEM course at City College of San Francisco (CCSF). Students taking the CCSF class will receive college credits that will be added to their transcripts as college-level classes and can fulfill their graduation requirements. Students also participate in the Mayor’s Office’s Opportunity For All Initiative, a paid internship in collaboration with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission Community Safety Initiative, field trips to STEM companies and colleges, and a chance to hear guest speakers in STEM careers.

This career exposure and academic support coupled with a meaningful experience is important to students like Tyson. “I would recommend this program because you receive a lot of information about a career in STEM and you get to go on field trips to see what other people do for career exposure. I’m usually really quiet so it’s nice to be around students who look like me while gaining more confidence regarding my education and any career choices I may have.”