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Lindbergh Middle School Outpaces State, Federal Targets

Lindbergh Middle School has achieved the greatest gains on the state Academic Performance Index (API) of any school in the Long Beach Unified School District, improving by 57 points. This increase surpasses the state’s nine-point target by more than six-fold. The recent improvement builds on last year’s impressive gain of 73 points, catapulting Lindbergh’s performance index from 453 to 678 in five years. The state’s ultimate goal for schools is 800. Lindbergh Principal Avery Hall attributes her school’s unusual success to high expectations, an intense focus on literacy and math, careful planning, analysis of student work, teamwork, a positive school climate, strong interventions, supportive parents and top-notch teachers and department chairs. "We’re ecstatic," she said. "We’re smiling from ear to ear. All of our hard work has paid off. I’m so pleased and proud of the staff that I’m going to host an appreciation luncheon for them this Friday." Most schools in the district have met or far exceeded state growth targets in recent years, but Lindbergh’s growth is among the most dramatic. This year, Lindbergh also exceeded its federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets. In fact, African American students at Lindbergh not only doubled the federal target for proficiency in math. They exceeded the target set for the year 2008 four years early. They also performed the best in math among African American students at middle and K-8 schools throughout the school district. Lindbergh last year achieved the most overall academic growth of any middle school in the district. At that time, the API for African American students at Lindbergh increased 89 points. Many of Lindbergh’s students live in poverty. Eight out of 10 Lindbergh students receive free or reduced price lunches. Among statewide schools with a similar socioeconomic profile, Lindbergh’s student achievement is rated a top 10 on a scale of 10. Others schools in the Long Beach Unified School District have noticed Lindbergh’s significant academic growth and want to learn from this turnaround school. Lindbergh’s math teachers, led by department chair and math coach Peggy Gutierrez, two weeks ago provided training for all local middle schools’ math department chairs. In the training, Lindbergh’s teachers showed other teachers in the district how to examine student work together to get better results. "We show them what questions to ask, what we say when we look at student work, how we speak to each other," Gutierrez said. She credits much of the school’s success to the amount of time teachers spend working together to examine and discuss student work and lesson plans. Teachers from each of the school’s grade levels -- six, seven and eight -- meet together each month to compare notes and fine tune instruction in reading, writing and math. Lindbergh, a multi-track year-round school, has arranged its class schedule so that teachers of common subject areas have common conference periods when they can get together to share their best ideas. Gutierrez has been freed from teaching daily classes so that she can assist other teachers throughout the day. The math expert taught at the district’s nationally acclaimed California Academy of Mathematics and Science (CAMS) for five years before arriving at Lindbergh more than a decade ago. This year she is visiting other middle schools in the district to share her successful methods. "Whenever another school asks for assistance, our principal always says, ‘Go help them--give them whatever they need,’" Gutierrez said. Lindbergh is beating the odds, proving it can be done, and sharing what works.