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Test Scores Rise At Many San Diego Schools

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Aired 9/1/11

More than half of San Diego city schools met state performance targets during the last school year. However, the growth wasn't enough to meet separate federal goals.

— Fifty-six percent of San Diego Unified schools met their state performance targets during the last school year. Another quarter saw test scores rise, though not enough to reach their targets. Statewide, 54 percent of schools reached their performance goals.

Scores for Hispanic and English-learner students rose slightly more than scores for students overall.

“We believe that some of the strategies we’re using with some explicit English language development instruction and some professional development that targets teachers of those students are starting to prove beneficial,” said Ron Rode, executive director for accountability at San Diego Unified School District.

The district’s total performance score was 798, just two points below its state goal of 800 on a 1,000 point scale. That score has increased by about 130 points over the last five years. See how individual schools did here.

Even as scores rose at most district schools, 24 new schools are slated to enter the first year of sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind program. The federal program sets goals not only for schools, but for groups of students identified by race, ethnicity, English proficiency, special education needs or socioeconomic status. Schools that do not meet goals for any one group of students can be labelled as failing and face a five-year program of sanctions if those goals continue to go unmet. At the end of the five years a school can be closed or have its staff replaced. For the 2011-12 school year about 115 schools are on track to be categorized as failing.

Many schools meet state accountability targets but are still deemed failing under the federal program.

California's accountability system "accounts for growth," Rode said. "So if you are improving your very lowest performing students up to the basic level, but perhaps they're not getting to the proficient level, it still recognizes that you've made some strong growth in that area."

Last week State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, asking that California be granted a reprieve from advancing No Child Left Behind sanctions for the coming year.

More California schools met state performance goals this year than in any year since the current accountability went into place. However, fewer met the federal goals set under No Child Left Behind. The federal targets increase each year, with the ultimate goal of every child reaching proficiency in math and English by the 2013-14 school year. The program began in 2001 and the targets rise most dramatically in the final years.

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