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Hilmar schools earn good grades on annual report

POSTED January 31, 2012 7:23 p.m.

The Hilmar Unified School District released the 2010-11 round of School Accountability Report Cards and schools district-wide are performing above the state average.
The SARC serves as a compilation of information on schools and their respective academic performances as well as enrollment, demographic, discipline, facilities and basic financial information.
However, the bottom line of the report cards is how the schools are performing academically — which is measured by the Academic Performance Index. The API is an annual measure of state academic performance and progress of schools in California. Scores range from 200 to 1,000, with a statewide target of 800.
The top performing school in the district was Elim Elementary, which reached the 800 plateau by improving to a score of 812, an increase of 22 points from the previous school year. The 800 plateau is universally known as the point mark schools want to reach to be considered achieving success at a high level. Hispanic students at Elim increased scores by 60 points in the last two years and English learners jumped an astounding 53 points. Socioeconomically disadvantaged students increased their scores by 28 points.
Another measure of a school’s performance is the California Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, which is a collection of tests measuring students’ abilities in certain academic categories such as English-language arts, math, social sciences and science. Elim performed well in mathematics with 68 percent of students reaching efficient or advanced levels. The state average is 50 percent.
Hilmar Middle School also performed well in the API with a score of 796, just under the 800 goal. Students improved their score 10 points over last year.

“We expect we will reach the 800 goal next year,” said HMS Principal Eric Hixson.
Students at Hilmar scored 83 percent proficient or advanced in science. The state average is 57 percent. “I can’t say there is just one answer for that. I have to give the kids the credit. It’s about the kids taking the test as a challenge, it’s about collaboration and sharing practices amongst the teachers and it speaks to the culture of our school,” said Hixson. “We talk about the test and the standards and the students are very aware of what the tests mean and everyone wants to keep getting better.”
In English, social science and science HMS students outperformed state averages. On a 1-10 scale HMS scored an 8 in comparison to “similar schools.”
Merquin Elementary scored 701 in API and although the school dipped 13 points from the previous year, it has improved 49 points over the last three years.
Hilmar High School, when compared to other similar schools, scored a perfect 10. The district’s only traditional high school leveled off with no gain or loss in its API score of 777, but in the last three years it improved 55 points and over six years it has improved 100 points.

“We aren’t happy with being flat but we have worked hard to close the achievement gap between all students and the socioeconomically disadvantaged and we are going to keep the pedal down,” said HHS Principal Brett Theodozio. “Our goal is to reach 800 next year.”
Socioeconomically disadvantaged students improved scores by 86 points in the last three years and Hispanic students improved by 70 points. English learners improved by 42 points over the same time span.
One area of concern for HHS administration is math scores. Only 26 percent of students were listed as proficient or advanced versus the state average of 57 percent.
“We have put our attention on math with professional development and offering support for our students with a ‘teach, re-teach’ option and tutoring,” said Theodozio.
HHS has a very high graduation rate of 91.2 percent in comparison to the state average of 80.4 percent.
Theodozio pointed to the fact that HHS and all schools in Hilmar are improving even in the face of budget cuts but he warned that it is possible that could become a “daunting” task should cuts continue next school year.
To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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