That's quite an accomplishment when you consider the stunning and consistent statewide disparities that exist.
While 60% of Caucasian students statewide met 2006 state test goals in English, scoring proficient or above, only 28% of Latino students tested that high. In math, 53% of Caucasian students met the test goals while 30% of Latinos met the goals statewide.
That gap is nearly 10% smaller in Glendale and Burbank.
It seems test scores are going up across the board, but the gap in most school districts is not narrowing. And that gap, even in improving local districts, remains the bad news.
O'Connell, rightly, called the gap unacceptable.
So while our local districts should bask in praise a bit, narrowing that gap must remain a priority.
More money and new strategies, as O'Connell pledged, can certainly help.
But luckily, in Glendale and Burbank, teachers, parents, administrators and the students seem to know what works. We don't have to guess at what it is that is driving these gains.
Gaps in student achievement are closing because of a vital mix of bilingual teachers; an emphasis on English teaching, in which educators aren't satisfied with students knowing only math or science; high expectations; solid English-learning programs; parents who care; and students willing to improve.
Narrowing this gap is vital in a state where, according to EdSource — a nonprofit coalition of experts who analyze state education policy — more than one child in five lives in poverty, nearly 50% of all kindergarten-through12th-grade students participate in free and low-price meal programs for low-income families and one-quarter of California's kindergartenthrough-12th-grade students are English learners.
And it is Latinos who comprise the greatest portion of growth in the state's enrollment.
As the forces of globalization and technology continue to bring the world closer, children of all minorities must be competent in academic skills. Otherwise, we are essentially raising an underclass for whom college will not be an option, who may simply drop out of high school and for whom employment — or at least a living wage — may be elusive.
That's wouldn't be good for the state or for Glendale and Burbank.
O'Connell said this week that the academic achievement of disadvantaged students would be his priority in his next term.
That should be a priority for all districts across the state.
In Glendale, we see signs that it is.
Those signs must continue, if truly no child is to be left behind.