Y-S schools found lacking
By No Child Left Behind standards, eight of the 21 schools in the Marysville Joint Unified School District need improvement.
Problems range from a school that didn't have enough white students taking the test, to a school where one in 10 students were proficient in the English language.
But no students were transferred out of any of the eight schools - even though their parents or guardians had that choice as part of the federal initiative.
A few thought about it, but decided against the idea, said Gay Todd, the district's assistant superintendent for educational services.
"We would like to think that's based on the fact that they're getting a good education where they are," Todd said.
The distance to the nearest, nonprogram-improvement school was also a factor.
With all but three of its schools getting poverty aid and a large immigrant population, the district has some big challenges in meeting federal goals - challenges that several schools didn't meet.
One district school, Cedar Lane Elementary in Linda, failed on a schoolwide basis. Test results show 11.5 percent of its students were proficient at reading and 14.5 percent at doing math, according to the California Department of Education.
Todd said the problem the school faced is that it has many students for whom English is a second language, primarily Hmong students.
The school already was identified by the state as a high-priority school in its accountability program.
So it's not surprising the school didn't meet testing goals. But its pupils and faculty are working hard, she said.
There are new textbooks, training for teachers in how to teach English and math to students for whom English is a second language and after-school tutoring.
The school will have to keep working because the bar is going to get higher. Every student will have to be proficient at reading and math by 2014.
Todd said the No Child Left Behind initiative's intent is a good one.
But she doesn't think it's much different from what the Marysville district has been doing all along in the 18 years she has been there.
At Lindhurst High School, which Todd said is in its second year of program improvement, students can get outside tutoring at district expense.
No families have chosen outside instruction - much of which is Internet-based, Todd said. Instead, they're using after-hours tutoring provided by the school's teachers.
Tutoring is one thing the district is doing to improve academics - and has been doing for some time, Todd said.
The district is going to track student academic performance more closely now.
The district has signed up nine schools for services from Pulliam Group, a Redlands firm, to monitor how students are doing.
That was in the works before the test results came back, Todd said.
Teachers have been given the latest textbooks and intervention methods to improve test scores, Todd said.
Though some district schools have been earmarked for improvement, other test results show good academic performance. California set up a complicated matrix of testing and graduation results used to measure academic performance and accountability. The state system was in the works before No Child Left Behind was passed.
Todd said the Adequate Yearly Progress results looked at only one result. It measured scores on math and English language proficiency tests. But other state tests like the Academic Performance Index show improvement for the district's schools.
"The challenge is not an easy one, and it is very complicated, but we have attacked it from all levels," Todd said. "When you look at the API, it shows growth."
One school that didn't make the cut in federal government standards was named a state distinguished school.
Olivehurst Elementary was deemed a program improvement school this year because 94.7 percent of its 152 white students took the proficiency tests. Schools had to get a 95 percent or higher testing rate for each subgroup. Two years ago it was named a state distinguished school.
Nothing has changed at the school, Todd said.
To get a passing grade, every sizable student subpopulation had to meet goals of 13.6 percent of students proficient or above in English Language arts, and 16 percent in math.
Eight of the 23 schools in the Marysville district did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals, according to California Department of Education reports:
- Alicia Intermediate - Too few Asian, English learner and students with disabilities tested proficient in English. Not enough Hispanic students and students with disabilities tested proficient in math at the school in Linda.
- Cedar Lane Elementary - School did not meet federal goals on a schoolwide basis for either math or English. Of the school's students tested, 11.5 percent were proficient in English language arts, and 14.5 percent in math. The school's subgroups also had problems. Too few Asian, white, poor and English learning students tested proficient or above in English. And not enough Asian, white and poor students were proficient at math.
- Ella Elementary - Too few English learner students met English proficiency standards. But, students at the Olivehurst campus were close with 13.2 percent, 0.4 percent short of the goal.
- Linda Elementary - Too low a percentage of Asian, Hispanic and English learner students were proficient on the English language part of the test.
- Lindhurst High - Too few of the school's Hispanic students were proficient at math tests for the Olivehurst school to meet federal goals.
- McKenney Intermediate - East Marysville school had too low a percentage of English learners proficient at math and English tests.
- Olivehurst Elementary - School fell 0.3 percent short in the number of white students taking the tests. So the school didn't make federal goals. There were no problems noted with the percentages testing proficient or above for any subgroups in the school.
- Yuba Gardens Intermediate - School's English learning students did not pass at a high enough rate in math or English. Not enough of the school's poor students passed math proficiency exams. The school, in Olivehurst, as a whole was 0.2 percent short of the 16 percent math proficiency target.
Appeal-Democrat reporter John Dickey can be reached at 749-4711. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.