Parents too share the frustration, said Annie Alwin, president of the Hoover High Parent Teacher Student Assn.
"We have complete confidence in Hoover," she said. "They're on a path already of continuous improvement."
A fifth school, Cerritos Elementary, is in a separate category because it was included on a list of the 1,000 "lowest performing schools" in California. State law passed in January required the California Department of Education to create a list of low performing schools, but no single school district can have more than 10% of its schools listed.
School board members and district officials derided the law in a board meeting Tuesday, and instead praised Cerritos, where student achievement has grown 24 points to 790 on the Academic Performance Index. The state sets 800 as the goal on the standardized tests that range from 200 to 1,000 and help determine property values.
"What would Los Angeles Unified look like if we truly had the 1,000 worst performing schools on this list?" school board member Mary Boger said. "I think it's a tragedy and crime that Cerritos…should be tarred and feathered with this ridiculous suggestion that they're one of the lowest performing schools in California."
The duality surrounding Cerritos is replicated at Toll Middle School, where academic achievement is growing, but the school slid into Program Improvement, a designation for schools that do not meet federal benchmarks in consecutive years.
Districts must have all their students reach escalating proficiency rates in English and math, or they're dinged by federal law. By 2014, 100% of students are expected to be proficient in math and English, according to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.