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Turlock schools see dramatic improvement in test scores
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The Turlock Unified School District is doing something right. This is evident after the 2010 Accountability Progress Report released on Monday showed significant improvements across the board.

An academic performance index growth of 26 points for the district as a whole, four schools moving into the 800 range for API and one school moving into safe harbor are just a few of the accomplishments that the report highlighted.

“I don’t know how much we can jump up and down,” said Laurie Harrington, director of assessment and accountability for TUSD.

Other accomplishments included the district moving into safe harbor in their Mathematics and the African American subgroup moving into safe harbor with both Math and English Language Arts.

“We are moving lightning speed ahead,” said Lacrisha Ferriera, TUSD assistant superintendent for educational services. “When you look at how far we have grown as a district, now that’s the sunshine.”

Every year schools are ranked by their API scores— a state accountability system — and their Average Yearly Progress — a federal accountability system — both compiled from the statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting Program and the California High School Exit Examination.

The state API measures year-to-year improvement where schools receive more API points for moving students up from the lowest-performance levels. The federal AYP system focuses on whether or not students are scoring at the proficient level or above on state assessments.

This year TUSD schools have all seen a significant growth in their API scores, except for two schools who had sinking API scores — Cunningham Elementary and Walnut Elementary Education Center — with a decrease in two points for their API scores. Freedom Education Center also saw a 22 point decrease in their API scores.  

The majority of the sites, however, increased their API scores by more than 20 points this year.

“It’s double digit improvements with the exception of four sites,” Harrington said.  

Crowell Elementary School had the least amount of positive growth with two points and Wakefield Elementary School had the biggest amount of growth with 58 points compared to last year’s API scores.

Dennis Earl Elementary, Medeiros Elementary, Walnut Elementary and Dutcher Middle School hit the statewide target of 800 points in API — ranked from 200 to 1,000 points — compared to Walnut Elementary and Medeiros Elementary who were the only schools in TUSD with a score of 800 last year.

Even with the API scores dramatically increasing, meeting AYP is a little more difficult with the federal-set goal of hitting 100 percent proficiency for all students — in English Language Arts and Mathematics — by the 2013/2014 school year with each year’s target increasing by 11 percent each year.  

Schools and districts must be proficient in both English Language Arts and Math in all subgroups to meet their AYP.

If schools and districts don’t meet their AYP in the same content area two years in a row they are considered a program improvement school and there is a five-year timeline for them to move into safe harbor, and they must remain in safe harbor for two years before they move out of program improvement.

This year Julien Elementary School is the only school that has met their AYP in both categories and all subgroups, freezing them in program improvement for year one, which has moved them into safe harbor. Julien Elementary must meet their AYP in both categories in all subgroups for 2011 to move out of program improvement.

Wakefield Elementary almost made safe harbor, but they did not meet AYP for their English Language Learners subgroup on the English Language Arts portion. They did meet AYP for the rest of their subgroups in both Math and English Language Arts.

Most of the schools did not meet AYP in all categories in all subgroups, putting the majority of TUSD schools in program improvement including the district, except for Crowell Elementary and Brown Elementary. Walnut Elementary, Dutcher Middle School, Turlock Junior High, and the four high schools are not considered to be program improvement schools because they do not receive Tier I funds.

Currently, the district as a whole is expecting to be in year four of program improvement and is still awaiting graduation rates.

Every school did make safe harbor in at least one category with one subgroup, which is a step toward reaching safe harbor for the entire school.

The federal-target of AYP is difficult to attain but district staff feels like it gives their teachers and students an extra push, while encouraging them on their great results in API scores, which is the biggest growth they have seen so far, Ferriera said.

“This small taste of success will bread more success,” she said.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.