Contact: Hank Harris

310-450-8338, ext. 334

For Immediate Release:

October 18, 2004

State Identifies Schools for Program Improvement

This week the State of California announced all schools identified as “Program Improvement (PI) Status” under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. In all, 1,641 California schools have this label attached to them for the current school year. The No Child Left Behind Act sets numerous criteria for every school and every district in the country. The criteria fall into four categories: percentage of students participating on tests; percentage of students scoring “proficient” on these tests; graduation rates (for districts and for secondary schools); and another indicator, to be determined by each state. In California, this fourth indicator is the API score. The Act also identifies “numerically significant subgroups,” and requires each subgroup within each school to perform at the same level that it requires each school. Hence, a school with a rich array of ethnically diverse students will have more criteria to meet than a school with fewer ethnicities represented.

In Santa Monica-Malibu, one school – McKinley Elementary School – was designated as a Program Improvement school. McKinley was identified as a PI school based on participation rates, not based on achievement levels or overall API score. Like most elementary schools in the district, McKinley has four numerically significant subgroups: Latino/Hispanic; White (Non-Hispanic); Students Impacted by Poverty; and English Learners. As a result, McKinley is judged on 21 criteria: the participation rate and the proficiency rate of each group on each of the two assessments (math and English), and the participation rate and proficiency rate of the school as a whole on those two assessments. The final criterion is determined by API growth. The required participation rates set by federal and state law for all schools and all subgroups is ninety-five percent.

When a Title I school misses a single criterion for two consecutive years, the school is identified as PI. McKinley met 19 of its 21 criteria, including all criteria related to academic proficiency. However, one subgroup at McKinley (White non-Hispanic students) participated at a rate of 92% according to state records on both the math test and English test, and this situation alone has created the PI identification at the school.

District officials with the assistance of the school leadership have begun a comprehensive data review to ensure that all records are accurate. Districts are allowed to request corrections on state-mandated testing through the end of October. “We are hopeful that our participation issues may be resolved through the data review process. Nonetheless we must begin the mandated process associated with PI status,” noted Paco Garcia, principal of McKinley Elementary School.

Schools identified as PI by the state are subject to certain requirements, and are also provided with district-level support. The district is expected to provide technical assistance to such schools, to notify parents of the school’s status; to offer transfer rights based on space availability; to set aside increased funding for professional development; and to establish a peer review process to review the school’s strategic plan.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Deasy remarked, “The designation of McKinley as a Program Improvement school is unfortunate, because it could easily misrepresent McKinley’s history of success. It is important for parents and the community to understand that McKinley is a very high achieving school, with an API score of 819, well over the state’s interim target of 800. It is our highest achieving Title I school; 54.7% of McKinley’s students scored proficient or advanced on English Language Arts, and 57.7% scored proficient or advanced on mathematics. We are proud of the academic achievement of McKinley students and aware that we still have room for continued growth. At the same time, we must recognize that Program Improvement status can also be conferred on a school because of participation issues. We look forward to working together to address the participation issues and to continue to improve teaching and learning for all students at the site.”



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