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School test results mixed for WPUSD

By: Brandon Darnell The News Messenger
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Test results for the Western Placer Unified School District are in. The state scores are up and Lincoln High School students outperformed the statewide average on the exit exam, but the federal scores don’t paint as bright of a picture. State Academic Performance Index Scores Districtwide, the API scores are up 19 points to 787 on a scale of 1,000. Mary Boyle, assistant superintendent for educational services, that is good news, since the expected increase was only five to six points. “So that was wonderful,” she said. “The state wants every school to be at or above 800,” Boyle said. Many schools are, but there is still work to be done, she added. The shining star in the state testing was First Street Elementary School, which went from a score of 715 to 776, when the growth target was to reach 720. “We are so incredibly pleased with the improvement at that school,” Boyle said. “I cannot emphasize enough how phenomenal that is.” Sheridan Elementary School saw a drop of 12 points to 762, and Phoenix High School suffered a loss of 74 points, bringing it down to 478. Boyle said those scores are volatile due to low student population at Sheridan and constant student turnover at Phoenix. “We are really proud of our schools. They have worked diligently to raise their scores, and their scores are up,” Boyle said. Federal Adequate Yearly Progress Scores Falling under the No Child Left Behind Act, the AYP measures students’ proficiency in math and English and requires an increasing percentage of proficient students each year, until 2013, when 100 percent of students are expected to be proficient. “Proficient” is the second-highest level on a scoring system composed of five levels. Western Placer Unified schools did not do as well in the AYP scores, which required proficiency levels to increase 11 percent, from 24 percent to 35 percent, Boyle said, calling 11 percent in one year “unrealistic.” First Street Elementary did not make the cut and was already in program improvement, which allows parents to place their children in other schools under the federal mandate. Carlin C. Coppin and Creekside Oaks Elementary schools also went into program improvement, though they followed the pattern of First Street Elementary by doing well in the state API scores. The reason for the discrepancy is in the way the scores are measured. In the state API system, an increase is mandated based on the school’s previous scores. In the federal AYP system, all schools must reach a certain level, and all subgroups of students, including groups such as English language learners and socio-economically disadvantaged students, must meet the requirements. Boyle said that with a diverse student population such as Western Placer has, it can be much harder to meet the criteria for passing AYP, since there are more ways to miss. “How can a school make a 61-point gain, and still be in program improvement?” asked school board of trustees president Paul Carras at the board meeting Tuesday. He said the AYP and API models are “totally out of sync.” Next year, the requirement is that almost 45 percent of students must be proficient in math and English, Boyle said. Boyle predicted that the requirements will be changed with the new presidential administration, regardless of which candidate wins, again calling the expectations unrealistic. “No matter where you start, you’re expected to hit the same goals as other schools in other districts,” Boyle said. “Overall, this is a great report for this district,” said trustee James McLeod of the API and AYP scores. Board members generally agreed that, in the coming years, more and more schools across the state and the county will miss AYP scores as the bar is continually raised. Superintendent Scott Leaman pointed out that just because a school is in program improvement does not mean it is a bad school. Since only schools funded by Title 1 are rated in the AYP scores, the possibility of opting out of Title 1 funding until No Child Left Behind is revised was briefly discussed at the board meeting, but no action was taken. The district currently receives approximately $750,000 in Title 1 funding. High School Exit Exam Scores Lincoln High sophomores made their first attempts to pass the high school exit exam in March, and the results came back on par with the county and ahead of the state, Boyle said. “They did very well,” she added. 87 percent of the students passed the math portion, and 86 percent passed the English portion. Boyle called the results “very similar to like-sized schools.” The county average was 86 percent in both math and English, and the statewide average was 79 percent in each. Students who didn’t pass this time will have two opportunities as juniors and three opportunities as seniors. At Phoenix High School, 11 students from all grade levels took the test, with 79 percent passing math and 64 percent passing English. Area school scores Carlin C. Coppin – API 814, a growth of 6, but no growth was required, as it was already higher than 800. AYP, met 15 of 16 requirements. Missed in the socio-economically disadvantaged students subgroup and entered program improvement. Creekside Oaks – API 786, a growth of 8 (5 required). AYP – met 16 of 17 requirements. Missed in Hispanic/Latino students in English and remains in program improvement. First Street School – API 776, a growth of 61 (5 required). AYP – met 18 of 21 requirements, missing in Hispanic, socio-economically disadvantaged and English learners subgroups. Entered year two program improvement. Foskett Ranch – API 842. It dropped, but was not required to grow since it was already over 800. AYP – met 11 of 11 requirements. Glen Edwards Middle School – API 756, a growth of 12 (5 required). AYP – met 13 of 13 requirements. Lincoln Crossing Elementary – API 830 (called a “great start” by Boyle). AYP – met 13 of 13 requirements. Lincoln High School – API 741, a growth of 16 (5 required). AYP – met 18 of 18 requirements. Phoenix High School – API 478 (loss of 74 points) AYP, met 5 of 6. Sheridan School – API – 762 (loss of 12 points). AYP, met 5 of 5. Twelve Bridges Elementary School – API 860, a growth of 7 (0 required). AYP, met 9 of 9 requirements. Twelve Bridges Middle School – API 843, a growth of 26 points (0 required). AYP, met 17 of 17 requirements.