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More schools headed for academic oversight

District officials label federal penalties as unfair

September 22, 2010|By Max Zimbert,
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

GLENDALE — Eleven Glendale Unified schools next year are at risk of joining four others that are being penalized for missing federal academic targets, according to the latest round of student testing data.

Schools that miss federal benchmarks in consecutive years are designated as Program Improvement campuses, putting them in a category of more strict oversight for boosting student achievement. If those goals aren't met, more drastic measures could be triggered, such as staff overhauls.

Toll Middle School and Glendale and Hoover high schools joined Roosevelt Middle School this year as being in Program Improvement after failing to hit the federal testing benchmarks for the second year in a row.

But the group could grow if Balboa, Cerritos, Columbus, Edison, Franklin, Glenoaks, Jefferson, Mann, Marshall, Muir elementary schools and Wilson Middle School don't make significant improvements and miss their federal targets later this year.

"The reality is all schools and all districts are headed there with the way this is set up," Supt. Dick Sheehan said. "It's obviously a system that needs to be updated."


By 2014, federal law requires all students to test proficient in English and math, which is unrealistic, and one reason why these campuses could be in Program Improvement in one year, Sheehan said.

It's a possible tidal wave, officials said. Academic achievement in federal law is a zero-sum game that rewards student ability, rather than consistent improvement year to year.

Next year, the federal target rises 11% and continues to escalate annually to full proficiency by 2014.

It differs from state benchmarks, which prize growing student achievement year to year, state Supt. Jack O'Connell said.

"The most accurate portrayal of a school's progress is growth," he said Monday after touring Roosevelt Middle School, the district's only campus in its second year of Program Improvement. "The metric is key."

Federal law was intended to force school administrators and staff to ensure all students are successful, officials said. But when one student demographic misses its mark, as is the case with many of Glendale Unified's campuses, the entire school is dinged with Program Improvement.

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