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Closing Achievement Gap An Afterthought?

Education Leader Worries About Future

Audio

Aired 5/22/09

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell says severe state budget cuts will threaten the academic progress of students across California. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more says he made that statement as he released performance targets for next school year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell says severe state budget cuts will threaten the academic progress of students across California. He made that statement as he released performance targets for next school year.

O'Connell hands-down performance targets for schools to every year. All schools are expected to reach the target of 800. Those schools whose student test scores fall short are given other goals that increase every year until they reach 800.

O'Connell says overall schools are making modest progress toward the target. And for the first time the state's achievement gap is closing ever-so-slightly. But now he says those gains could be short-lived because of more proposed cuts to education funding.

"I fear that the progress that we've made, for seven consecutive years, and now that we're incrementally beginning to see the achievement gap close, is likely to be completely derailed. And our efforts to close the achievement gap will simply be an afterthought," O'Connell said.

Schools are bracing for more than five billion dollars in cuts. The school year could also be cut-short by seven days. Earlier this week, voters rejected ballot measures that could would have restored some education funding.

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