Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Than Half of Elementary Schools Now 'High Performing'

For the first time, more than half of San Diego Unified's elementary schools are identified as high performing by California Department of Education standards, according to test results released today as part of the state's Accountability Progress Report.

The state's Academic Performance Index showed 61 of San Diego Unified's 120 elementary schools now exceeded an 800 score on the index, which measures their students' test results in English language arts and math. An 800 score indicates that students are proficient or advanced in their knowledge of the subjects ("proficient" can be considered a "B" grade, "advanced" an "A," while educators identify a "C" level student as being "basic").

"This is wonderful news for the hard working students, teachers and staff at these elementary schools," said Superintendent Terry Grier. "We've put a particular emphasis on smaller classes, which we know leads to better learning."

Schools with a score above 900 -- with students scoring overall at an advanced level -- total 20 elementary schools.

Including middle and high schools, San Diego Unified has 80 schools at 800 or above, up from 67 in 2007-08, 64 in 2006-07 and 61 in 2005-06. Among middle schools, 10 of 23 were at 800 (43 percent), and five of 34 high schools (15 percent).

Statewide, making the 800 grade were 48 percent of elementary schools, 36 percent of middle/junior high schools and 21 percent of high schools.

"These scores certainly show the growing excellence of our elementary and middle schools, but they also show we have a great deal of work to do," said Grier. "Our high schools, for example, range from some of the very best in the state to others that face great challenges."

Despite the gains, San Diego Unified becomes the last large urban school district in California to be placed on Program Improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Overall, it failed to meet growth targets for English Language Arts for students identified as Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged and Students with Disabilities.

In addition the district failed to meet growth targets in math for students identified as Hispanic, English Learners and Students with Disabilities.

As a result, the district will be required to submit a plan for improving performance in these areas.

The California Department of Education has posted the results online at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ar/index.asp