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    Nine LBUSD Schools Not Currently Making The Grade On Fed'l "No Child Left Behind" Standards

    (October 14, 2004) -- Nine LBUSD schools are not currently meeting federal "No Child Left Behind" academic standards.

    The nine schools are: Butler (Mary) Elementary, Cleveland Elementary, Franklin Middle, Hamilton Middle, Jefferson Leadership Academies, Lindbergh Middle, Promise Academy, Stephens Middle and Washington Middle Schools.

    Schools receiving federal "Title I" funds (mainly for low-income populations) that fail to meet academic targets for two consecutive years are placed in "program improvement" status. A Title I school goes into "program improvement" status if it doesn't make "Adequate Yearly Progress" for two consecutive years on the same indicator (English-language arts and mathematics, Academic Performance Index (API), or graduation rate.

    Detailed LBUSD "No Child Left Behind" data, released by the CA Department of Education, can be viewed by clicking LBUSD No Child Left Behind Title I "Program Improvement Status.

    [For a "school finder" web page letting you view school web sites, School Accountability Report Cards, test scores and other facts, click LBUSD school finder.]

    A school can exit "program improvement" status once it makes Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years...and several LBUSD schools (also listed below) have successfully done so.

    As one of the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law, the nine LBUSD schools now in "program improvement" status must offer choice and transportation for students at these schools to attend another LBUSD school that isn't in "program improvement" status. (details below).

    Franklin and Washington Middle Schools are in their fourth year of "program improvement" status...meaning LBUSD could effectively lose control over how these schools are run if they fail for a fifth year.

    LBUSD spokesman Dick Van Der Laan told is taking measures to deal with all its "program improvement" status schools, with special focus on Franklin and Washington Middle Schools. Those measures include extra tutoring, extra academic support, enforcement of "best practices" on those campuses, an intensive English language curriculum (called "Language!") and math assistance for students...and teachers.

    Mr. Van Der Laan noted that Franklin Middle School now also has a new principal, Dave Taylor, whose work at Tucker Elementary is credited with significant positive results at that campus.

    Mr. Van Der Laan noted that LBUSD's rate of "performance improvement" schools is less than half that of such Title I schools statewide. While roughly 28% of CA's Title I schools fail to meet "No Child Left Behind" academic standards, the rate for LBUSD schools is closer to 13%.

    LBUSD's lower rate of "performance improvement' schools comes despite its diverse and often low income student population among several federally designated demographic subgroups, Mr. Van Der Laan noted. If a school fails to meet "No Child Left Behind" standards for even one subgroup, the entire school is placed in "program improvement" status.

    Mr. Van Der Laan said that while LBUSD is pleased it's performing at a better rate than other CA school districts, it will not be satisfied until all LBUSD schools meet the rigorous federal standards.

    Over the past few years, several LBUSD schools have successfully exited the dreaded "program improvement" status by making Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years. Those LBUSD campuses are Burroughs Elementary, Hughes Middle, King Elementary, Lee Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and Marshall Middle.

    Last year, LBUSD was awarded the Broad Prize as the nation's best urban school district.

    A CA Dept. of Education fact sheet notes that "Students enrolled in Program Improvement (PI) schools have the option to transfer to schools in the LEA [Local Educational Agency] that are not PI [Performance Improvement status], with paid transportation." It adds:

    Under No Child Left Behind, students who attend a Title I-funded school that is identified for program improvement, corrective action, or restructuring must be given the option of school choice. This provision allows all students attending such a Title I school the option to transfer to another public school, including a public charter school, that is within the LEA and that is not in program improvement or is not persistently dangerous.

    The option of school choice must be made available to all students the first year a school is identified for school improvement and all subsequent years thereafter, until the school has made adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years. Students who exercise their right to attend another school under this school choice provision must be given the option to continue to attend that school until they complete the highest grade of that school, even if the original school is no longer in program improvement, corrective action, or restructuring

    In a written release, CA's State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O'Connell, said of the statewide results:

    I continue to believe that California's own accountability system -- the Academic Performance Index -- is a fairer and more accurate measurement of school performance. It makes more sense to measure schools on their academic growth from year to year, and target resources to schools showing the least improvement, rather than designating schools 'passed or failed' based on whether they reached an arbitrary status bar. This process, however, allows schools needing improvement to take part in our intervention programs that are designed to improve student achievement. We will continue to work hard to assist these schools by getting them the help they need. No matter what standard is used, we need to ensure all students are successful academically.

    Under federal No Child Left Behind academic standards, all schools must show that 100% of their students are proficient in English-language arts and math by 2014, a determination "that will certainly result in a vast majority of schools, not only in California but nationwide, being designated as inadequate," the release noted.

    "Once this federal measurement identifies all schools as failing, it ceases to be a meaningful accountability system," Superintendent O'Connell said.

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