Promising Models

Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary School


Their mission and vision has been to build a culturally-responsive community that works to collaboratively empower students with the tools to be independent, creative and critical thinkers who can become leaders and advocates in the local and global community.

Elementary school

To make scholars college and career ready by:
• Supporting students’ academic and social and emotional needs
• Providing students with a multi-tiered instructional program
• Enhancing their learning through arts and science
• Engaging parents to be partners in their learning
• Providing teachers with high-quality professional development

75% Latinx
22% Black
95% FRPL Eligible*

Ninety-Ninth Street is one of the top performing schools in Watts as it serves the needs of its predominantly Black (22%) and Latinx (75%) students, nearly all of whom qualify for Free or Reduced Price Lunch (95%).

Academic Preparation & Student Achievement

Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary School has seen a consistent growth in their CAASPP ELA and Mathematics scores since the 2014-2015 academic school year. In spite of having access to fewer resources and serving one of the most high-need communities in California, Ninety-Ninth Street has still managed to score at or near the state average since 2017-2018, and has iteratively been improving learning outcomes based upon collectively interpreting data and actively listening to the concerns of the schooling community.

Social Justice-driven Leadership by Black & Latinx Women

Ninety-Ninth Street is led by a Principal, Vice Principal and Instructional Coach who are Black women, as well as a Latinx woman who serves as the Title 1 and English Language Learner Coordinator, who have worked together to build a repertoire of pedagogies, curricula, structures and practices that center social justice and innovative models of instruction. The school incorporates student-led and small group teaching strategies that prioritize critical thinking and critical literacies, which notably address anti-Blackness and their declining population of Black students. The decision by leadership to be responsive to the knowledge, cultures, languages and concerns of Black and Latinx families in supporting student learning needs has led to a high morale and retention rate among teachers, who are also provided with weekly collaboration time to focus upon planning and sharing effective teaching approaches.

Ninety-Ninth Street Elementary School has valued and incorporated local community partners, parents/guardians and families in serving their students. Within schools serving poor and working-class Black and Latinx students, there is often the problematic deficit-based assumption that parents/guardians and families do not care and/or cannot offer much to the education of their children. The response has been the heightened implementation of “behavioral management” tactics and simplified banking models of instruction. Ninety-Ninth Street aims to deeply consider the social, political and material contexts of their school, and respond with a challenging and high-quality education that honors and sustains their students, families and communities. The result has been high student and parental/guardian engagement that is likely driving their increasing academic performance, which continues to defy predominant expectations of what is educationally possible with limited resources within communities hardest hit by systemic injustices (Ed Data, 2019; Ninety-Ninth Street School, 2021).

*Free & Reduced-Price Lunch