BRILLIANCE explores the different ways in which the current public education system doesn't serve the majority of students that attend it, and alternative pedagogical methods for evaluating student, teacher, and school performance. BRILLIANCE focuses on the inability of the education system to serve low-income communities. It discusses the many factors that interconnect and cause certain populations of students to fall behind in school. In the film we talk to three advocates in our communities who work every day to help give these students a voice and one student who shares her experiences.


We hope BRILLANCE can:

  • Serve as a platform for educators to inform others about the new programs they are developing and their possible application.
  • Expand possibilities by showing policy makers an alternative to current assessment tests and ways of assigning merit within the school system.
  • Promote a message of acceptance and offer hope for students struggling through the same circumstances we explore.
  • Discussion Guide
  • Partner Organization   
  • Facts & Resources
  • Meet the Filmmakers   


Discussion Guide*

The purpose of this discussion guide is to stimulate dialogue about current educational paradigms in place and their negative and postive aspects. This guide will also spark debate about ways in which to help the underserved in our communities.


  • Safe Spaces - how the lack of access to safe spaces and essential resources limits students potential
  • Educational Flaws - how it tends to marginalize certain communities, and the massive disconnect between people with solutions and the current educational policy makers.
  • Looking to the Future - opinions from professionals on ways in which to heal this broken system, and provide real and lasting support and resources to the communities discussed.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some things you liked about your education growing up?
  • What are some things you wish you could change?
  • What are the five skills measured in the new assessment by E3 ?
  • Describe the flaws in the education system as discussed by the three advocates in the film?
  • What are some skills you learned outside the classroom? How did they help you in later life?
  • Do you believe that some of the solutions offered by the educators in the film can be effective?
  • In what ways do you think self-empowerment can help youth from these communities?
  • Why is empowerment important? How can educators work to empower their students?
  • What are some examples of life skills that kids growing up in these communites get from their everyday lives?


Partner Organization

E3 : Education, Excellence and Equity

E3's goal is to "improve the chance of academic and life success for all students". They determine a unique and appropriate strategy for each child, provide extensive training for educational workers, and help schools in implementing an innovative new assessment program. E3 helps students translate what some might consider societal disadvantages into quantifiable skills suited for today's modern job market . E3 recognizes that most of these students have many latent capabilities such as innovation, adaptability, critical analysis, cross cultural communication, and teamwork, which are all traits most current jobs require in their employees. E3, and specifically Dr. JuanCarlos Aruez have spent the last five year developing a new assessment test to be taken at the same time as other standardized tests, which measures students abilities in these overlooked areas.

Arize High School

ARISE High School, is a new Oakland charter school, opened in 2007. The mission of ARISE High School is to empower students from low income families but with the skills and knowledge, to be able to pursue higher education. 

Metro Academy of health

Metro Academy of Health is a 'school within a school' to give student extra support and a strong foundation for college success.Students in Metro are part of a cohort or learning community that works together over three to four semesters, supporting each other every step of the way. Courses are designed to reinforce the foundation skills you will need for college success and throughout your life--writing, public speaking, critical thinking and quantitative reasoning.



  • Since 2001 in California, the average graduation rate for African American & Latino/a students is estimated to be 60%.
  • 1 out of every 2 students who dropped out of U.S. high schools state that their classroom experiences are disengaging and not applicable to real world learning.
  • Civic Enterprises and Hart Research Associates, 2006
  • Students in kindergarten through grade twelve whose home language is not English are required by law to take an English skills test. In California, the test is called the CELDT.
  • The Academic Performance Index (API) is the cornerstone of Californias Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA). The purpose of the API is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. It is a numeric index (or scale) that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. A schools score or placement on the API is an indicator of a schools performance level. The interim statewide API performance target for all schools is 800. A schools growth is measured by how well it is moving toward that goal.
  • Rather than being isolated, ethnic studies helps students to bridge differences that already exist in experiences and perspectives. In these ways, ethnic studies plays an important role in building a truly inclusive multicultural democracy and system of education.
  • According to employers, less than 25% of college graduates are excellently prepared for the workforce. 
    The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner, 2008


Meet the filmmakers

MARINE GAUTIER. I am an exchange student from Paris, France. I believe filmmaking is an art form which first and foremost needs life experience and a good understanding of the world. I came to San Francisco to broaden my horizons and further my filmmaking skills. I'm more orientated towards documentary film making, for the reason that documentaries have a fascinating capacity to question the world. 

WILL HENDERSON-NOLD was born in San Francisco and grew up going to public schools all across the Bay Area. As a cinema major, working together with students from outside my own interest to create this movie has been an extraordinary experience.

JESSE ROGALA is a born and raised San Franciscan who enjoys making films in both narrative and documentary format. A student of the public school system in the Bay Area, he has a particular interest in the subject of Brilliance.

TANU SREEDHARAN. I was born in India and have lived in the East Bay for the majority of my life. I am a Health Education graduate and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about documentary film making with this awesome group of people.  


    Learn about Documentary for Health & Social Justice and how to get involved.


      *The information on these pages is provided by the student film makers and does not represent an endorsement or verification of statements from the Health Equity Institute