Thursday, September 01, 2005

More Vallejo public schools met or exceeded their state growth targets this year

September 1, 2005

Test scores are up, but more work lies ahead
VCUSD sees improvements, but some students left behind

By SARAH ROHRS, Times-Herald staff writer

More Vallejo public schools met or exceeded their state growth targets this year, according to state and federal test scores released Wednesday.

However, the Vallejo City Unified School District as a whole did not meet the more difficult federal target as set by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standards.

Under these requirements, 14 elementary schools met either math or English targets. Middle and high schools did not meet their targets.

More work is clearly needed so that all students are learning at higher levels, officials said. "We are headed in the right direction, but there is still lots of room for improvement," district spokeswoman Tish Busselle said.

The federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) target and the state Academic Performance Index (API) came about two weeks after the release of the 2005 California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) results.

In STAR testing, Vallejo's elementary, middle and high schools improved in math and English scores, though they still lagged considerably behind the state average.

Last year, 11 schools met lower federal standards, indicating a trend toward improvement.

However, the AYP mark is more difficult for schools to meet this year and will only get tougher.

Busselle relayed some comments from State Administrator Richard Damelio, saying he continues to be pleased with testing results. However, he added, "we have a lot of work to do."

"The future looks good if we stay the course," he added.

California and the U.S. Department of Education measure academic progress in different ways. Under the API, schools can compete against themselves, showing progress or decline over previous years.

By contrast, the federal AYP target is set at a fixed goal.

Sixteen of 24 Vallejo public schools improved on the state API. Two schools showed some, but not enough, improvement, while progress at six other schools declined.

Through the API, each of Vallejo's four middle schools and four high schools met or exceeded their state performance growth standards, a considerable change over last year's scores.

Six elementary schools showed no improvement, and, in fact, declined. Those include Beverly Hills, Cave, Cooper, Davidson, Farragut and Loma Vista elementary schools.

Busselle said some elementary schools showing a decline this year had big improvements last year. She said several years of scores should be analyzed to get a comprehensive view.

On the flip side, significant growth over last year was shown at Wardlaw, Widenmann, Pennycook and Glen Cove elementary schools. Franklin Middle and each of the high schools also showed healthy improvement over last year.

The API and the AYP both use results of the STAR tests to measure growth in elementary and middle schools. California High School Exit Exam results are included in high school scores.

Under both federal and state standards, schools aim toward a goal of 23 percent of their students scoring high enough on the STAR tests that they were placed in advanced and proficient levels.

By 2014, federal education officials want all students placed in those two levels.

This year, the feds doubled the academic standards that schools must meet, from 12 to 23 percent. That bar will go even higher in 2008, and then increase even more every year thereafter.

This year, Vallejo barely missed meeting its AYP mark overall, Busselle said. If 24 more students had placed in the top two levels of the California STAR tests, the district would have made the target, she said.

When looking at schools individually, five schools met the AYP targets in both English and math, six met the English component, and eight made the math target. Those schools meeting both math and English targets are Beverly Hills, Glen Cove, Pennycook, Wardlaw and Widenmann elementary schools.

No child left behind

The federal No Child Left Behind Act says all students must be proficient in English and math by 2014. States are required to report their progress toward that goal each year by measuring the results of standardized tests and the number of students tested.

Here is a look at this year's results and the consequences for schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress.


- For 2005, schools must test at least 95 percent of their students.

- Elementary and middle schools must show 24.4 percent of students are proficient in English on the State STAR test. Last year's goal was 13.6 percent.

- High schools had to show that 22.3 percent of students were proficient in English, compared to 11.2 percent last year.

- For the math requirement, elementary schools had a proficiency goal of 26.5 percent, up from 16 percent last year. High schools' goal for math rose to 20.9 percent, from 9.6 percent last year.

- All significant subgroups of students, such as ethnic groups, socio-economically disadvantaged, disabled and English learners, also must meet those goals.No child left behind.

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