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TUSD testing scores dismal; District in program improvement once again
TUSD API scores pic1
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";} Students in Felice Rodriguez’s second grade two-way immersion class at Osborn Elementary School practice their Spanish language skills. Osborn is one of three Turlock Unified School District elementary schools designated as a lowest-performing school. - photo by Journal file photo

Academic Performance Index Scores

School                                          API 2008          API 2009

Brown Elementary                             717                   740

Crowell Elementary                           709                   739

Cunningham Elementary                    704                   696

Dennis Earl Elementary                     754                   763

Julien Elementary                              769                    750

Osborn Elementary                           691                    698

Medeiros Elementary                        815                     817          

Wakefield Elementary                       673                     659

Walnut Elementary                            851                     865

Turlock Junior High                           709                     723

Dutcher Middle                                 817                     778

Turlock High                                     719                      714

Pitman High                                      732                      733

* API scores run from 200 to 1,000 and the state requires each school to get a score of 800 or higher.


            The Turlock Unified School District received its progress report from the state — in the form of public school rankings and the Base Academic Performance Index (API) report — and was found lacking. While the District as a whole raised its API score by seven points, going from a 2008 Base score of 730 to a 2009 Growth score of 737, it was not enough to get the TUSD out of Program Improvement designation — a designation it has had for the past three years.

“I feel that at least we’re going in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto about the District’s scores.

The state ranks schools academically on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the top 10 percent, to determine a school's standing compared to other schools statewide. The rankings are based on the school's base API and on results of the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program and California High School Exit Exam. Three TUSD elementary schools — Cunningham, Wakefield and Osborn — received a statewide rank of 1.

API scores are a way to measure each school’s test scores from the California Standardized Tests that students must take every year. API scores run from 200 to 1,000 and the state requires each school to get a score of 800 or higher. API scores are also a way for community members to rank schools and see where each school stands based on their test scores.

Walnut Elementary Education Center received the highest ranking (8) and the highest API score (865), while increasing their score 14 points over last year. Walnut and Medeiros Elementary (817 API, ranked 7) were the only two schools in the District to get an API score of at least 800. Crowell Elementary School notched the highest API increase with 30 points, for a score of 739. Dutcher Middle School recorded the largest drop in scores, decreasing by 39 points from last year, for a score of 778. Three elementary schools are on the lowest-performing schools list — Cunningham (696), Osborn (698) and Wakefield (659) — and five TUSD schools total are considered program improvement schools.

Da Marto said there are a lot of variables that go into how different schools in the District score on testing.

“Each school in the district is in transition,” he said.  “They are working to concentrate on state standards. Some schools are being more successful in implementing these strategies. It’s not unusual to see a school … go down, up, down, up (on API scores). What we’d like to see is a steady increase, or at least maintaining a steady score.”

According to TUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Lacrisha Ferriera, the District has been working with the Stanislaus County Office of Education to create and implement strategies to move TUSD out of program improvement. The District and the county work together through the District Assistance and Intervention Team (DAIT) program.

“The DAIT allows us to have a laser-like focus on what we need,” Ferriera said.

Administrators are not only looking at the District as whole, but at each grade level, school site and individual classrooms for ways to improve testing performance, Ferriera said.

“We’re very encouraged,” she said.