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TUSD fares well on annual academic report

POSTED January 20, 2012 7:21 p.m.

The report cards are out and the Turlock Unified School District is showing marked improvement in academic performance for the third consecutive year.

Earlier this week, TUSD released the 2010-11 round of School Accountability Report Cards. The SARC serves as a compilation of information on schools and their respective academic performance as well as enrollment, demographic, discipline, facilities and basic financial information.

However, the bottom line of the report cards is how a school is performing academically. This is known as the Academic Performance Index. The API is a comparison of Turlock schools to other schools in the state, factoring in important academic indicators of success such as graduation rates and assessments in English/ language arts and mathematics.

As a general rule, schools across the state strive to reach an API score of 800 based on a 0-1000 scale.

The state average for the 2010-11 school year was 778, up 11 points from 2009-2010. TUSD schools overall are improving slightly faster than the state average — yet overall remain below 778. The district’s score was 773, a 13-point increase from last year — better than the 11-point state average increase.

TUSD Director of Assessment and Accountability Laurie Harrington explained what the point growth represents.

“Whenever you see double digit growth that means a school is moving a tremendous amount of kids from one proficiency category to the next,” she said.

Part of the API score calculation is the percentage of students who perform in certain levels of proficiency based on the subject, such as below basic proficiency, proficient or advanced.

Harrington pointed to the district’s commitment to professional development and uniform goals as the primary reason TUSD schools continue to climb.

“There is a lot of professional development going on and that’s why you see the growth. This has been about perfecting your craft and working together —it’s the ‘US’ in TUSD,” she said.

In recent years TUSD officials have implemented a strategic plan to improve professional development through teacher collaboration, support, technology, observation and direct educator instruction.  

Walnut Elementary Education Center, the TUSD magnet school, continues to lead the way with an API score of 886 — a 23-point jump from the previous year. In nearly every demographic subcategory Walnut scored an 800 with the exception of “students with disabilities.

Medeiros Elementary jumped up 15 points to 859, and over the past three years the school has improved 44 points. Amongst the “socioeconomically disadvantaged” students Medeiros logged a 36-point increase.

Julien Elementary joined the “800 club” with an 811 score, up 14 points from the previous year. In the last two years Julien has been the largest API growth amongst TUSD elementary schools with 61 points of improvement.  

 “We’ve been working hard and our teachers are just getting stronger and stronger. We’ve created a collaborative environment with better communication between parents, teachers and students,” said Julien Principal Linda Murphy Lopes. “Technology has helped to increase that communication. Now when you give a test you get feedback instantly and make changes to your instructional focus. In the past you’d have to wait and grade your test and then go back.  Also, with the Internet parents and teachers communicate so they know exactly what is being covered and what homework there is.”

At the secondary level Dutcher Middle School posted an 808, up four points. In the past two years Dutcher has improved by 30 points.

The second fastest improving school is Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy. In the past three years Osborn has leaped an impressive 66 points to a 757 score. Turlock Junior High School has also seen rapidly increasing scores. In the last three years TJHS has improved 59 points to 764. Cunningham logged a 17-point increase to post at 711.

Turlock’s two traditional high schools also improved. Pitman saw a slight increase of three points to 767. In the past three years Pitman has seen a steady 35-point climb.

Turlock High School is the district’s most improved school. Over the past two years THS has bulldogged its way to 68 points of improvement to a score of 782. THS Principal Dana Trevethan attributes the improvement that has come about to a collective effort to increase expectations and accountability for students, teachers and administrators.

Roselawn High School improved 35 points over the past three years to 527.

In the entire district last year three schools did not improve, but this year only one school did not improve, indicating a continued climb for TUSD. Wakefield Elementary posted a nine-point slide to 708. However, last year it saw the single largest increase in TUSD with a 58-point jump.

The SARC reports will be posted onto the TUSD website in English and Spanish by Feb. 1.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal.com, or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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