San Benito County schools received mostly good news when state
and federal measures of academic success were unveiled last
San Benito County schools received mostly good news when state and federal measures of academic success were unveiled last week.

For the 2007-08 year, 11 of 25 countywide schools failed to meet the Academic Yearly Progress standards set forth by the federal No Child Left Behind Act – down from 14 schools last year. Meanwhile, 63 percent of the state’s Academic Performance Index growth targets were met in San Benito County this year, a figure that beats the statewide average of just 53 percent.

API scores range from 200 to 1000 and are derived from Math and English tests given by the state at the end of the school year. A score of 800 is considered excellent. AYP requires that a percentage of students score at the “proficient” level or above on state-administered tests. This year’s required percentage is 35 percent.

Subgroups of students – including low-income, special needs students and English-language learners – also must meet AYP standards. In addition to test-score requirements, schools and subgroups must meet test participation and attendance requirements to demonstrate adequate progress.

Some of the more notable performances were at San Andreas Continuation High School on the state standards, gaining 112 points over last year’s score; San Benito High School District, which met all of the federal targets; and the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District, which did not meet any of the growth targets – though San Juan School missed by only one point.

“This was not what we were expecting,” said Superintendent Jacquie Munoz. “It is very distressing that none of the schools made their targets.

“One issue is that AYP targets go up every year for every student,” she added, “and that includes targets for English proficiency for English learners.”

Administrators and staff are evaluating the scores for a full report, including on efforts to improve scores, at the board’s Oct. 1 meeting, noted Trustee Leslie Austin.

Across the spectrum at San Andreas, the school experienced the largest increase for any school in San Benito, Monterey or Santa Clara counties.

Angel Rivera, who came on as principal for San Andreas last school year, said it is all about focus and working as a team.

“We concentrated from the first day of school. Our goal was to get off of (program improvement) status,” he said, referring to the P.I. classification given to struggling schools.

Those schools are closely monitored by the state and federal governments and must comply with various interventions and show marked improvement for two years before becoming eligible to be removed from the list.

“No school wants to be identified as PI,” asserted Rivera, “and I knew the first day that we could bring these students up to grade level.

“Looking at our school you see a community of learners made up of everyone on the school site and from the county office. There is genuine caring and focus from every involved person.”

Rivera said the high school just received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and that he is confident that the upward trend will continue, resulting in removal from the PI list.

“We get new students every day that the other schools don’t want,” he said. “We work with them successfully, and they work with us. That’s how you improve scores.”

And over at San Benito High School, the school not only met all of its federal targets – two or which weren’t met last year – but the district also improved its API score by 25 points, far exceeding the goal of a 5-point improvement.

Our teachers did an incredible job of engaging students and supporting academic success,” said Principal Krystal Lomanto. “I am very proud of both our students and staff for doing an outstanding job.”

Lomanto pointed out that focus continues to be on teacher collaboration – using data to drive instruction, providing standard-based curriculum and using benchmark exams to assess learning.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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