EIGHT ON FED WATCH LISTS SCHOOL DISTRICTS URGED TO IMPROVE.
LANCASTER - Eight of Antelope Valley's 12 school districts have been designated as failing for two consecutive years to meet academic requirements outlined in President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act.
The eight districts are now labeled ``program improvement'' districts that are subject to federal requirements and possible sanctions.
The 2001 federal school accountability law requires all districts and schools to demonstrate ``adequate yearly progress,'' with an eventual goal that all students are proficient in English and math by 2014.
The eight districts are Acton-Agua Dulce Unified, Antelope Valley Union High, Eastside Union, Keppel Union, Lancaster, Mojave Unified, Palmdale and Wilsona school districts.
The four that remained off the list are Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union, Muroc Joint Unified, Southern Kern Unified and Westside Union school districts.
In addition to the eight school districts, 48 Antelope Valley schools are individually also in program improvement and being federally monitored.
Federal requirements for districts in the first year of program improvement include developing and implementing an improvement plan in consultation with parents, staff and others, and setting aside at least 10 percent of federal aid Title I funds for staff development.
In Year Two, districts must continue with implementing the improvement plan. In Year Three, districts are subject to sanctions by the state if it does not make AYP by the end of the second year.
The state must take at least one of the following corrective actions against the district in the third year: defer program funds or reduce administrative funds; institute new curriculum and professional development for staff; replace district staff; remove individual schools from jurisdiction of the district and arrange for governance; appoint trustees in place of superintendent and school board; or abolish or restructure the district.
The state may also in conjunction with one of the sanctions authorize student transfers to a school and district that are both not in program improvement with their transportation paid for.
Districts were identified for program improvement because for two years they failed to meet minimum proficiency, test participation and graduation rates under the No Child Left Behind Act.
The 2004-05 school year was the first year that school districts were identified for program improvement, and the state originally identified only 14 school districts, none of which were Antelope Valley districts.
But federal education officials disapproved of the state's method of determining which districts should be in program improvement, and wanted a revised criteria that could have led to dozens more schools coming under federal watch, state education officials said.
An agreement between the California Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education was announced Tuesday that will limit the number of districts that are placed in program improvement.
``I am pleased that after significant negotiations we were able to reach a tentative agreement with the federal government that allows California to approach the issue of identifying districts for Program Improvement in a more sensible way,'' state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell said in a statement.
Federal officials wanted the state to look at individual grade levels to determine if districts made adequate yearly progress. Under the agreement, the state will average results from grades three through five and six through nine, and look at grade 10 to make the determination.
``That has a tendency to lower the number of total school districts in program improvement,'' sai Tina Jung, a state education department spokesperson.
Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744
Antelope Valley school districts listed among the 184 California school districts designated as in need of improvement under the No Child Left Behind law, based on a measurement system agreed upon by education officials Tuesday.
--Acton-Agua Dulce Unified
--Antelope Valley Union High
Source: U.S. Department of Education
LEARNING CURVE (see text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Mar 10, 2005|
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