A new report released to NBC Bay Area Wednesday morning shows many schools continue to underperform, while others in poor neighborhoods are finding ways to excel.
The report was put together by the group, Innovate Public Schools, and it looked at data over the last five years.
One of the schools near the top of the list of excelling schools is San Jose’s Russo/McEntee Academy in the Alum Rock School District.
Superintendent, Dr. Hilaria Bauer said the secret is teamwork and accountability.
"At the end of the day, it's about the team," Bauer told NBC Bay Area. "That’s one of the great findings when you look at different components and elements in our schools."
That’s the concept that helped other community schools in Alum Rock receive top honors in the annual report.
Examples of accountability: underperforming teachers and administrators have been moved or asked to leave, and perhaps seek other careers.
"There are no excuses for students not doing well," said Jeimee Estrada, one of the report’s authors.
The study looked at what are referred to as high needs schools in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.
These are schools that are in poorer neighborhoods.
The authors of the report said poverty and language deficiencies are common in Alum Rock. But the district seems to use those as an asset, not a barrier.
"When you have to overcome something that other students don't need to deal with, isn't that much more powerful? To be able to compete and say we're doing it," Bauer said.
The report suggests other schools and districts that make up the low 28 on its list should adopt the same mentality, one of accountability and no excuses.
"Make sure that its implemented quickly because students can't wait," Estrada said.
Carrie Greco is a parent at Alum Rock schools that have improved dramatically, thanks to the help of parents and the group People Acting in Community Together, or PACT. The group has pushed for reforms and accountability.
"We in the community need to realize that the children are our future," Greco said. "Future leaders, teachers, business leaders. Without these children, where are we going to be when we’re older?"
San Jose’s James Lick High School is on the list of 28 persistently low-performing schools.
The report says only 31 percent of students at James Lick are reading at grade level.
"It’s a concern at this point and I hope from here on it gets better for the community and the students coming here," Raul Gonzalez, a parent at James Lick.
Another parent, Michelle Garrett said, "I’m really shocked with what you’re saying. I’m really shocked."
But the Superintendent of the East Side Union High School District took issue with the report.
Chris Funk said Innovate Public Schools is using old data and old data-gathering methods to come up with its list.
"It’s irrelevant. It’s dated," Funk said. "Look at the graduation rates, drop out rates, the number of kids going to college."
Those are better indicators to measure a school, Funk said.