More area schools fall short of assessment benchmarks

While more of San Mateo County’s schools met state and federal progress benchmarks in 2005-06, a growing number of schools have failed to meet those benchmarks for two or more consecutive years, earning them Program Improvement status.

Least year, 26 schools countywide — 30 percent of all schools — qualified for PI status, up from 23 percent in 2004-05. Sequoia High School in the Sequoia High School District and Sunshine Gardens in the South San Francisco Unified School District shed their PI status while nine new schools, including five in Redwood City and three in San Mateo, entered their first year on PI.

Meanwhile, six county schools reached their fifth year on Program Improvement, the point at which state intervention and restructuring is required. Low-income students and students who speak little English predominate at each of those schools.

One of those, College Park Elementary in San Mateo, formerly Turnbull Learning Academy, instituted major changes in its fourth year of PI status, including changing its name. Last year, the school added a seventh period and launched intensive morning studies followed by afternoon electives, according to Joan Rosas, assistant superintendent in the San Mateo-Foster City School District.

“That’s what caused the 75-point [Annual Performance Index] growth,” College Park Principal Diana Hallock said. “We’re happy with the progress the school has made.” However, the school did not meet federal growth benchmarks.

The Sequoia High School District is hoping to take the same rigor that helped Sequoia High School shed its PI status and apply it at Menlo-Atherton High School, where a combination of factors prevent the school from meeting state and federal benchmarks, according to Brandon Lee, district coordinator of research and evaluation.

“It’s pretty unfortunate,” Lee said. “This year, they met their target rates in terms of percent proficient, but now it’s because of dropouts.”

In Redwood City, Superintendent Jan Christensen is adding extra assistant principals at Taft and Fair Oaks, both on their fifth year of PI, and will be establishing a new governance structure and make sure those schools are teaching to state and federal standards. She also named Liz Wolf, the former principal who guided Adelante School to massive gains on assessments, as district superintendent of educational services so she can assist more schools.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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