Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012-01-12 "Two Vallejo schools to lose $2 million in grants; State board denies them a last chance to raise test scores" by Lanz Christian BaƱes from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
SACRAMENTO -- The state school board refused Wednesday to give two Vallejo schools another chance to raise test scores, costing them a combined $2 million and potentially leading to larger class sizes next year.
Citing a desire to adhere to accountability controls built into the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA), the board voted to deny Vallejo High and Cooper Elementary schools a fourth year to raise their average Academic Performance Index scores.
"I have been very supportive of waivers of QEIA," state board member Yvonne Chan, who nonetheless supported denying them for six California schools, including the two Vallejo sites.
Chan said the QEIA goal was to raise API scores, so she was unwilling to grant the waivers based on those scores. The funds, part of a 2006 settlement between the California Teachers Association and the state, are meant to improve California's lowest-performing schools.
The schools must adhere to several standards, including improving by at least one point their three-year average API scores. Although the two Vallejo sites did see API score improvements, they failed to meet their target average.
Many other schools' representatives described the paradox of losing the very money that helped their schools improve overall, despite not meeting their targets.
A delegation of about a dozen Vallejo City Unified School District teachers, board members, parents and Superintendent Ramona Bishop argued that the district had turned a corner and was on an ascendant path.
"We are a district that has been in tremendous transition since 2004," Vallejo school board member Hazel Wilson told the state board, referencing the year the district was taken over by the state.
The district remains under receivership, but has regained most governing powers.
Both Principal Clarence Isadore of Vallejo High and Principal Lucius McKelvy of Cooper also came to Sacramento in an attempt to save their respective school's funding.
"We will make the growth, but if we don't, we should be held accountable for that," McKelvy told the state board in arguing for one more year to raise test scores.
Christal Watts, president of the Vallejo teachers union, also endorsed the waivers, contending that the two schools would meet their targets if given a chance. However, a California Teachers Association representative denounced waivers as damaging to the QEIA program.
The final decision left the Vallejo delegation subdued as they prepared to head home Wednesday night. QEIA funds pay to reduce class sizes and for extra counselors at the high school. Those affected expenses must now be considered on top of any more cuts the state imposes for the coming fiscal year.
"I'm disappointed. We did our best. But we're still going forward," Bishop said.

No comments:

Post a Comment