Tuesday, August 18, 2009

THE MAYOR'S PARTNERSHIP SCHOOLS & THE GREEN DOT TAKEOVER: The Times says "Lackluster", the Mayor says "Real Progress"

Lackluster test results for Mayor Villaraigosa's high-profile schools and Locke High

By Howard Blume - LA Times Staff Writer

9:30 AM PDT, August 18, 2009 -- The two highest-profile school-reform efforts in Los Angeles -- the mayor's schools and the conversion of Locke High into six charter schools -- achieved lackluster results in state test scores released this morning.

The picture was mixed for 10 schools overseen by appointees of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. At one school, Markham Middle School in Watts, test scores declined slightly. On the brighter side, test scores bumped up strongly at 99th Street Elementary.

Overall, scores at these schools rose, but so did scores at most other district schools, and the mayor's schools did not ostensibly separate themselves from the pack.

"We are encouraged, but not satisfied," said Marshall Tuck, chief executive of the mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. "We are showing real progress and continue to have a strong sense of urgency to work at these schools to increase student achievement and give these children the high-quality education they deserve."

At Locke High in South Los Angeles, an intensive makeover by an outside charter operator failed to bring up test scores. Last year, 12.7% of students tested proficient in English; this year the number was 12.4%. Last year, 2% of students were proficient in math; same for this year.

But there was an important -- if more subtle -- marker of progress in the view of officials from Green Dot Public Schools, the nonprofit management organization that took over Locke. The number of test-takers exploded because the campus had more students at the end of the year and a higher percentage of them took the tests.

In May 2008, for example, 1,546 students took the state's English test; this year, that number rose to 2,130, an increase of 38%. The number of math test-takers rose by the same percentage.

Green Dot officials claim its dropout rate plummeted by just over 86%. It counts 19 dropouts and eight expulsions compared to 223 dropouts the prior year. Those figures won't be confirmed through the state's dropout tracking system for some time, and the numbers could change considerably, but the final statistics are unlikely to wipe out all the gains.

Green Dot's analysis is that test scores remained stable even as hundreds of lower-performing students were kept in school.

"A big part of this is building a college-going culture and kids feeling safe on campus," said Kelly Hurley, a senior Green Dot administrator. "I think we're there, but we have a lot of work to do in getting kids to grade level."

Statewide, test scores were up, although little progress was made on closing the achievement gap separating black and Latino students from their white and Asian counterparts. Some of the increase results from about 2% of the lowest-scoring disabled students being removed from the test pool and allowed to take a modified assessment.

In L.A. Unified, schools with some of the biggest improvements in math included Playa Del Rey and Arminta elementary schools, Holmes and Portola middle schools, and Bell High School. Notable improvements in English scores were achieved by 54th Street and 74th Street elementary schools, Mount Gleason Middle School and Hollywood and Fairfax high schools.

Antonio Villaraigosa: "Real Progress in My Partnership Schools"

Antonio Villaraigosa

Antonio Villaraigosa- Mayor of the City of Los Angeles in the Huffington Post

August 18, 2009 02:21 PM  - Today is a big day for the schools in California and, of course, for the ten Partnership Schools here in Los Angeles that I oversee. Test scores in English, Math, Science and other subject areas are being released.

So how did we do?

Test Scores are up.

In just one short year we have changed the culture of low expectations at ten of the lowest performing schools in Los Angeles. We have shown that even in schools that have been neglected for decades, when you raise standards and hold schools accountable, the kids will respond.

In English, nine out of ten Partnership schools improved their scores. And in Math and Science, eight out of ten schools improved.

Half of our schools out-paced the district in English scores and four out-paced the district in Math.

Our elementary schools soared, improving their English scores at a rate of 8.5% while the LAUSD elementary schools improved by 4.9%. Math scores improved by 3.9% compared to LAUSD elementary schools improving by 2.5%.

This is real progress and real change where it is absolutely the hardest to achieve.

While we are very encouraged by this improved achievement, we are not satisfied. We have a long way to go to get our middle schools and high schools on the path to achievement.

Congratulations to all of our schools -- 99th Street, Figueroa, Ritter, Sunrise, Gompers, Hollenbeck, Markham, Stevenson, Roosevelt and Santee.

Watch out next year, here we come.

smf: Does he spin make you dizzy?  Here are the test results!

REMEMBER THE TAXONOMY OF INFORMATION: Test scores are data. Properly assembled, data becomes information, well used information becomes knowledge – and if we we put that to good use (and have any luck) -we get some wisdom!

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