Catholic high school plans on pace
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The achievement gap remains this year after the federal measure
of student progress on English and math tests show a 35-percent
chasm between Hispanic students and white and Asian students. Good
news for Morgan Hill Unified School District did come in the form
of the Academic Performance Index, which is the state’s yardstick
to measure a school’s progress.
The achievement gap remains this year after the federal measure of student progress on English and math tests show a 35-percent chasm between Hispanic students and white and Asian students. Good news for Morgan Hill Unified School District did come in the form of the Academic Performance Index, which is the state’s yardstick to measure a school’s progress. The district reached the Academic Performance Index goal of a score of 680 or above, or a growth of at least one point – MHUSD improved by 23 points with a score of 789.

The Adequate Yearly Progress scale is a federal standard that determines whether a school is meeting the No Child Left Behind standards. Together the two scores determine state and federal funding for schools in some cases and also set the pace for next year’s goals and expectations.

Eleven of the district’s 13 schools met the Academic Progress Index growth expectations of at least a five-point increase. Two elementary schools did not: Barrett improved by one point and Jackson fell by 24 points. Several more schools’ subgroups – or a significant number of students at a school – failed to meet the standard even though the school as a whole was deemed proficient: Nordstrom, P.A. Walsh, Paradise and Britton Middle School did not meet the growth target for its subgroups.

The overall improvement at MHUSD is showing that some of former-Superintendent Alan Nishino’s ideas are starting pay off, Trustee Julia Hover-Smoot said, such as streamlining curriculum among all schools, adding Algebra I as a requirement of eighth-graders and increasing college-required courses for high school students.

She was also pleased with how hard students are working and that “it’s gratifying that so many parents are taking it very seriously. It’s good to see that,” Hover-Smoot said.

Superintendent Wes Smith, who will celebrate his one-year anniversary with MHUSD in November, has been an advocate of sharing best practices among schools in the district and increasing collaboration time for teachers.

Neither Smith nor Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Socorro Shiels immediately returned phone calls for comment.

At today’s school board meeting at 6 p.m., Shiels will make a presentation of the district’s AYP and API scores that were generated by the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) in April.

The agreed-upon goal for the Academic Performance Index is a schoolwide score of 800 on a scale of 200 to 1,000. It’s a score that just four of MHUSD’s schools have achieved: Charter School of Morgan Hill with 887, Paradise Valley with 881, Nordstrom Elementary with 871 and Los Paseos Elementary with 836. Ann Sobrato High School is the next closest with a score of 799, followed by Barrett with 796, then San Martin/Gwinn with 795, El Toro with 794, Martin Murphy Middle School with 782, Britton Middle School with 777, Live Oak High with 768 and Jackson with 768, and P.A. Walsh with 742. Despite Walsh’s score, it was an 11-point increase from last year. 

On the AYP report, the district’s English learners, students with disabilities, socio-economically disadvantaged and Hispanic students did not meet the No Child Left Behind standard of 56 percent of students in every subgroup scoring at a proficient level or above. Every year, according to No Child Left Behind, the number of students that test proficient increases until it reaches the 12-year goal of 100 percent of students proficient in English and math by 2014.

“The increase in the number of schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress this year might be misinterpreted as indicating that schools are performing worse,” said Dr. Charles Weis, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools. “But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, student scores are better than ever. However, we’re at the stage now where unrealistic expectations for growth are outpacing our rate of improvement.”

Since 2006, the average API score for Santa Clara County has risen from 786 to 818, while statewide the average score is 767. MHUSD is outpacing the state with a 789 score districtwide.

The tests that are given to third- through eighth-graders also decide whether a school is given a check mark in the Program Improvement column that mandates more restrictions for schools that are considered failing to meet the requirements of AYP.

According to the Santa Clara County Office of Education, a rapidly increasing number of schools and districts are unable to meet these growth marks to stay out of PI, and therefore are remaining in PI despite improvements.

“Here’s how unrealistic the national growth expectations are: There has never been an educational program that has resulted in double-digit growth each and every year. Not in this state, not in this country, not anywhere in the world,” Weis said in a news release Monday.

There are five “years” of PI until a school is sometimes closed or transformed into a charter school but begin with a number of transformative changes leading up to year five. Currently, MHUSD itself is in its second year of Program Improvement due to the number of schools in PI: El Toro is staying in year two, San Martin/Gwinn moved to year two, P.A. Walsh into year four and Jackson into year five.

If a school can show “significant” double-digit improvement of 10 percent growth or more over two consecutive years and every subgroup tests proficient it can move to “safe harbor” and out of PI. The requirements can include revamping curriculum, firing staff and rehiring new teachers, changing the layout of the school day and increasing instructional minutes.

At the district’s PI schools, El Toro increased by 33 points, San Martin/Gwinn did better by 27 points, P.A. Walsh made a small jump by 11 points and Jackson was the only school to regress, sliding 24 points. El Toro will not move from its PI year two status to year three thanks to its 33-point increase, while San Martin/Gwinn, P.A. Walsh and Jackson move into their respective PI years.

To help it move out of PI 5, Jackson will add an office space for former Gilroy High School principal Ernie Zermeno following the expected approval of his contract by the board of trustees tonight. Zermeno will be a part of the additional governance required by the PI plan for schools in year five, such as Jackson.

Also, Jackson is expected to restart its after-school homework club that will target English learners who largely make up the subgroup that continues to struggle on the standardized tests. Busing for the club has been an issue since last year when the club dissolved because many students did not have a dependable ride home.

The English Learners Advisory Committee, a group of mostly Spanish-speaking parents, met at Jackson Thursday to discuss what can be done to move Jackson out of PI. The meeting was led by Padres Unidos president Roberto Aguirre who promised to have the homework club and busing in place in two weeks “if the school can’t get it done, we will get it done,” Aguirre said.

Zermeno was on hand that night and introduced himself to the audience of about 30 people. He said he would be on campus at Jackson three days a week or 50 hours a month to help facilitate progress and also act as a liaison among the district, the school and the Hispanic community, which makes up nearly half of Jackson’s population.


School 2009 base 2010 growth Growth Target Growth

Barrett Elementary 795 796 5 1

Charter School of MH 880 887 N/A* 7

El Toro Elementary** 761 794 5 33

Jackson Elementary** 792 768 5 -24

Los Paseos Elementary 806 836 N/A* 30

Nordstrom Elementary 871 871 N/A* 0

P.A. Walsh Elementary** 731 742 5 11

Paradise Valley Elementary 869 881 N/A* 12

San Martin Gwinn** 768 795 5 27

Britton Middle School 753 777 5 24

Martin Murphy Middle School 738 782 5 44

Live Oak High School 722 768 5 46

Ann Sobrato High School 770 799 5 29

  • Once a school reaches 800 points, there is no growth target. 

** Schools in Program Improvement 

Source: California Department of Education

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