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Test Scores Show SD Unified Making Slight Gains

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Aired 4/19/09

(Photo: San Diego Unified School Superintendent Terry Grier goes over the latest standardized test scores at an afternoon news conference. Ana Tintocalis/KPBS )

New state standardized test results show San Diego public schools kids are making gains, but fewer than half still did not score well in English and math. Meanwhile, San Diego County students are doing better than the state as a whole. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.

 

The test results show 47 percent of San Diego public school kids scored proficient or advanced in English. That's up by two percent from last year. The results also show roughly 42 percent of students got proficient or advanced scores in math, up by three percent.

 

School Superintendent Terry Grier says the district has seen steady gains over the past five years but realizes the district faces uphill battle.

Grier: While we're proud we have much work to do. We still don't have enough students -- particularly our students of color -- being at the proficient level and above. So I will restate it once more: We have a lot of work to do.

Grier says the gap between white students and black and Latino students has narrowed, but the test scores of black and Latino students are still significantly lower than whites.

The state standardized test results could also spell trouble for San Diego public schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. 

The federal accountability system takes state test scores and applies its own academic benchmarks. Grier says those benchmarks get kicked-up a notch every year, making it more difficult to meet the targets.       

Grier says many local schools will be faced with federal sanctions even though they're improving by the state's standards. 

Grier: You will see significant increases in middle grade test scores in the San Diego Unified School District. Tell me whether or not that looks like failing middle schools to you? They don't to me. But when the No Child Left Behind information comes out, all but two (schools) will be tagged and labeled as failures.

And San Diego is not alone. School district leaders across the county are worried about the new targets. Federal sanctions at a school can range from a curriculum change to a state takeover.

Meanwhile, State School Superintendent Jack O'Connell says he's concerned with the performance of black studemts in the state. Results also show blacks scored just slightly better than Latinos in English. That worries state officials because many Latino students are learning English as a second language.

 

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

 

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