Descriptive Title: Academic performance and size of San Francisco public schools

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Point

Weighted average Academic Performance Index (API) and proportion of schools achieving an API Base of 800 or more (2010)
NeighborhoodTotal Student Population# of API-ranked schools in neighborhood# of schools with 800+ API score% of schools with 800+ API scoreWeighted Average API ScoreSchools with API: < 700Schools with API: 700 - 749Schools with API: 750 - 799Schools with API: 800 - 849Schools with API: > 850
Bayview/Hunter's Point 2,057 7 2 29% 665 3 2 0 2 0
Bernal Heights 1,192 3 0 0% 687 1 2 0 0 0
Castro/Upper Market 1,197 4 2 50% 727 2 0 0 2 0
Chinatown 665 1 1 100% 835 0 0 0 1 0
Excelsior 2,781 6 3 50% 761 2 1 0 2 1
Financial District/South Beach 76 1 0 0% 564 1 0 0 0 0
Glen Park
Golden Gate Park NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Haight Ashbury 609 2 2 100% 846 0 0 0 1 1
Hayes Valley
Inner Richmond 977 4 3 75% 860 1 0 0 1 2
Inner Sunset 1,611 3 3 100% 929 0 0 0 0 3
Lakeshore 3,134 2 2 100% 928 0 0 0 1 1
Lincoln Park
Lone Mountain/USF
Marina 1,972 3 3 100% 867 0 0 0 1 2
McLaren Park
Mission 3,314 9 1 11% 674 6 0 2 1 0
Mission Bay
Nob Hill 670 2 1 50% 821 0 0 1 1 0
Noe Valley 1,163 3 1 33% 756 1 1 0 1 0
North Beach 1,057 3 2 67% 782 0 1 0 1 1
Outer Mission 2,519 5 0 0% 752 1 1 3 0 0
Outer Richmond 4,508 4 3 75% 834 0 0 1 0 3
Pacific Heights NA 0 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Potrero Hill 1,246 4 0 0% 622 2 2 0 0 0
Presidio Heights 1,394 2 2 100% 881 0 0 0 0 2
Russian Hill 2,683 3 2 67% 799 0 0 1 0 2
San Francisco 56,234 113 55 49% 792 28 18 12 24 31
South of Market 1,358 2 0 0% 749 0 2 0 0 0
Treasure Island NA 0 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Twin Peaks 1,186 2 2 100% 883 0 0 0 0 2
Visitacion Valley 2,951 7 1 14% 693 5 1 0 1 0
West of Twin Peaks 3,726 6 6 100% 850 0 0 0 2 4
Western Addition 2,606 8 1 13% 732 2 3 2 1 0

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

The Academic Performance Index (API) is a single number, ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, which reflects a school’s, an LEA’s, or a subgroup’s performance level, based on the results of statewide testing (an LEA is a school district or county office of education). Its purpose is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. The API was established by the California Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA), which in 1999 created a new academic accountability system for K-12 public education in California. The state defined target is an API of 800 or more. For more information on the API score, please consult the CA Department of Education's Academic Performance Index website at:

The API is one of multiple indicators of school quality. Academic performance is related to educational achievement, which both predicts positive health outcomes directly as well as the effects of education on lifetime earnings.a Educational achievement and student performance have been associated with each of the following aspects of the physical school environment: air quality, temperature, lighting, acoustics, building age/quality, school size and class size.b Additionally, a study using data from the California Healthy Kids Survey found that as the percentage of students who perceived high levels of caring relationships, high expectations, and opportunities for meaningful participation at their school increased, so did API. School safety was also significantly related to API.c

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

The map demonstrates that schools on the eastern side of the city have lower academic performance than schools on the western side of the city. The neighborhoods with the lowest average weighted API scores are: Potrero Hill, Bayview, Bernal Heights, Mission, and Visitacion Valley, which all have weighted scores below 700. Conversely, Inner Sunset and Lakeshore both have average weighted API scores above 900.

Examination of the distribution of children in San Francisco relative to the distribution of public school seats shows that the southeastern part of the city including Bayview, Visitacion Valley, Excelsior, Crocker Amazon, Outer Mission, Bernal Heights, and Mission accounts for 37% of San Francisco’s 0-17 year old population, but holds only 29% of the public school seats. The neighborhoods of Inner and Outer Richmond, Inner and Outer Sunset, Lakeshore, West of Twin Peaks, and Parkside however, account for 28% of San Francisco’s under 18 population, but hold 38% of the public school seats.

The map above of the 2010 student test score quintiles by census tract shows that the same neighborhoods with poorly performing schools also have the lowest individual student test scores. While this would likely make sense if San Francisco had a neighborhood schools system, the San Francisco Unified School District has a school assignment policy that in theory allows students to attend any school in the city if there is room. Students in areas with the lowest average test scores have priority in the school assignment process. Results from the 2011 school assignment process show that lower percentages of students in the southeast part of the city are choosing their neighborhood school compared to students on the western side of the city.


School addresses were obtained from the San Francisco Unified School District. School addresses were geocoded and mapped as points. The size of the points was scaled relative to the size of the school, while the color of the point was selected to depict the school’s API score.

The weighted average API score for neighborhoods was calculated by multiplying the number of students enrolled in each school by the school’s API score and summing those products for each neighborhood. This sum was then divided by the total number of students enrolled in public schools in each neighborhood. The formula is as follows:

Neighborhood Average Weighted API Score = (E1xAPI1 + E2xAPI2 + E3xAPI3 + …) / (E1+E2+E3+…)

E = 2010-2011 school enrollment

API = 2010 school API

Three SFUSD schools, Rooftop Alternative Elementary, Bessie Carmichael Elementary, and Claire Lilienthal K-8 schools are each located on two separate campuses.  Specifically, the Burnett campus of Rooftop Elementary serves grades K-4 and grades 5-8 of Rooftop are located on the Corbett campus; the Madison campus of Claire Lilienthal serves K-2 and the Scott campus of Lilienthal serves 3-8; and the Seventh Street campus of Bessie Carmichael serves K-5 and the Harrison campus serves 6-8.  However the academic profile and standardized testing scores are reported as though there is only one school on one campus.  Because SFDPH is calculating API scores by planning neighborhood district, the campuses were counted as separate schools with the same API score.  SFDPH used 2010-2011 school enrollment data by grade (from the CA Dept of Education) to calculate the number of students on each campus.

As of November 2011, 113 of the 115 SFUSD schools were included in neighborhood API score calculations.  The two schools not included were: Five Keys Charter School, which is a school with the Sheriff's office to help prisoner students develop educational skills and Newcomer High School, which serves as a one year transition high school for recent immigrants and refugees learning English.  Both schools are intended as transition schools and although they have started reporting API scores, the schools try to not evaluate students using standardized testing.


Many other factors affect school quality in addition to academic performance. Additional measures of quality could include: availability of books, supplies and other resources; physical and social structures of the school; actual and perceived safety at the schools; proximity to green space; training and experience of teachers and staff; involvement of parents in children’s education; opportunities for extracurricular activities; whether the school is used as a multi-use facility in the afternoons, evenings and weekends; and existence of afterschool programs. Thus it is important to recognize that academic performance is just one of many possible indicators to assess school environment.

Similar to many other urban areas, San Francisco public schools face the challenge of trying to create a high quality, integrated academic environment that compensates for existing racial, ethnic, and economic segregation by neighborhood. The education-related indicators in Objective PI.2 seek to illustrate these tensions/tradeoffs by providing multiple different indicators affecting the accessibility and quality of educational facilities in San Francisco. One measure alone cannot capture the complexity of student achievement or the various push and pull factors causing children and families to leave or move to San Francisco. Therefore, educational achievement and performance must be considered both within the broader context of neighborhood, social and economic conditions which are addressed in other parts of the HDMT.

Valuing the historic and social importance of integration, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has experimented with a number of different school assignment policies to promote diverse, high performing schools. Currently, SFUSD allows any student to apply to any school in the city. However, there are often situations where there are more requests for spaces at a particular school than seats available. Whenever requests are greater than the number of seats available, the SFUSD uses a Student Assignment System to guide student selection.  More information about the SFUSD Student Assignment System is available at:

Data Source

2010 Base API scores from:  California Department of Education. Local Educational Agency (LEA) List of Schools. 2010 Base Academic Performance Index (API) Report. Accountability Progress Reporting. Accessed online in November 2011. Available at:

2010-2011 School enrollment from:  California Department of Education. Selected District Level Data. Accessed online in November 2011. Available at:

Map and table created by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section using ArcGIS software.

Table data is presented by planning neighborhood. Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found in the SCI at the following links:

  1. Backlund E, Sorlie PD, Johnson NJ. A comparison of the relationships of education and income with mortality: the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. Soc Sci Med. 1999;49(10):1373-84.
  2. Schneider, Mark (2000) Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes? Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities. Accessed on May 14, 2008:
  3. "Student Success: What’s Violence Got to Do With It?" The Institute for Advancing Unity. Accessed on February 14, 2011: