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DEADLINE NEAR FOR WORST SCHOOLS TO RAISE SCORES; LIST TO COME OUT WEDNESDAY.

Byline: Greg Gittrich Staff Writer

With statewide standardized test scores scheduled for release Wednesday, 18 Los Angeles Unified School District campuses face administrative takeover if they fail to show improvement.

Superintendent Ruben Zacarias last year branded 30 schools, including two in the San Fernando Valley, as the district's worst-performing because their test scores in basic subjects, such as mathematics and reading, failed to improve over a two-year period.

Although the list was a central part of Zacarias' reform effort, district officials have conceded there were flaws in the methodology and statistical analysis used to compile it, and they have pared down the number of schools on probation to 18.

Any of the 18 whose students fail to compile a higher campus-average score on the Stanford 9 standardized test this year will be put into ``receivership'' and lose local decision-making authority on budget, hiring and curriculum matters.

While district officials did not immediately provide the new worst-schools roll, a Valley principal said his school has been taken off the list.

``We feel pretty good about not being on that list anymore,'' said Charles G. Baldwin, principal of Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar.

According to district sources, the compilers of the original list failed to use the same variables from year to year to evaluate the performance of schools, creating statistical sets that could not be compared fairly.

In Olive Vista's case, the flawed statistical analysis showed the school's performance fell by one criteria point when it actually increased by one point, Baldwin said.

``We've been working real hard this year, and hopefully our scores will be up again when the new results come out this week,'' he said.

Since being identified as one of the 100 worst-performing schools in the district two years ago, Olive Vista and each of the other lackluster schools has received $10 million for remedial programs.

Baldwin said he believes a new reading program, staff development and after-school academic programs, financed with the extra money, have helped boost Olive Vista's performance on the Stanford 9.

``We're not on the list, but we will still be looking at the school's needs to determine strategic ways to improve,'' Baldwin said. ``The district is going to put out a new list, and are looking at all the variables, so this time it should be a real system based upon good statistics.''

Los Angeles Unified students scored in the bottom third in the nation on the Stanford 9 last year, failing to match their national peers in any subject.

The test results for English-speaking students, including those not fluent in the language, showed LAUSD students underperformed students from other districts in Los Angeles County at every grade level and in every subject even though 48,000 limited-English students opted out of taking the exam.

Repeating their past success on the standardized test, Valley students outperformed their peers across the district last year. As a whole, however, the schools fell below the 50th percentile, the score for the average school in the nation.

Some schools in the district, which administered the standardized test in

April, already have been notified of their results and are mailing out information to parents, district officials said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 29, 1999
Words:531
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