OAKLAND -- A middle school in West Oakland with a 91/2-hour school day has received the Hart Vision Award, a statewide honor for charter school of the year. Of the more than 900 state-funded, privately run charter schools in California, KIPP Bridge was one of two to earn the honor.

KIPP Bridge is part of a national network of 99 schools created to close the achievement gap. Its 244 students in grades 5 to 8 have a longer school day and school year than most public schoolchildren, beginning at 7:30 a.m. and going until 5 p.m. Its teachers arrive each morning by 6:45 a.m., said KIPP Bridge Principal Lolita Jackson. She said teachers stay, on average, for three to four years.

Jackson said the 8-year-old school ramped up its academic rigor when she arrived in December 2009. In 2010, KIPP Bridge's state test scores rose 75 points to 864 out of a possible 1,000. The average score for African-American students -- who make up 71 percent of the school's enrollment -- was 856. Statewide, the average score for African-American students in grades 7 and 8 was 676. For those in grades 2-6, it was 731.

"There are very few schools in the state that are closing the achievement gap the way we are," Jackson said.

KIPP Bridge was awarded the Hart Vision Award along with Dr. Olga Mohan High School in Los Angeles. Oakland Charter Academy, a high-performing middle school in East Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood, received the honor in 2009. The award is named after Gary K. Hart, a retired state senator who sponsored legislation that paved the way for the charter school movement.