B-Tech Awarded $50,000 State Grant to Raise Scores

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday July 11, 2006

B-Tech Academy (formerly Berkeley Alternative High School) has secured a major grant from State Superintendent Jack O’Connell to help raise student achievement. 

The California Department of Education awarded B-Tech $50,000 through the High Priority Schools Grant Program (HPSGP) June 30. Funds must go toward implementing plans to improve student learning and academic performance. B-Tech was one of 494 schools in 207 districts statewide and the only Berkeley school to receive the grant. A total of $24 million was earmarked in HPSGP funds this year.  

The program targets low-performing schools that have scored low on the Academic Performance Index (API). B-Tech was selected from a pool of 689 eligible schools. The grant runs through June 30, 2007, though B-Tech may qualify for additional funds—$400 per student—over the course of three to four years, according to Fred Balcom, HPSGP administrator for the state Department of Education.  

The program mandates that B-Tech improve 10 points over three years on the API, measured on a scale of 200 to 1,000. B-Tech last earned a 370, the lowest score in the Berkeley Unified School District. 

If the school fails to grow its academic performance, corrective action may be taken. This would involve intervention assistance from the state, Balcom said.  

B-Tech is in the process of transforming from an alternative school to a continuation model, where students, some of whom may attend involuntarily, will select from three paths to earn their high school diplomas—a college track, a vocational program or independent study. The district is spending about $139,000 on additional school staff through various funds. 

B-Tech Principal Victor Diaz could not be reached for comment by press time.