Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 18, 2011

State: PMS must improve math scores for Hispanic students

Improvement already a district priority

by Glenn Wohltmann

Pleasanton Middle School has to do a better job of teaching math to Hispanic students, according to a state review of test scores.

The Pleasanton Unified School District learned this week that the poor scores put the school into program improvement status, meaning the district must improve those scores under the federal No Child Left Behind act.

Failing to improve those schools could trigger a series of increasingly serious interventions for schools that remain in "program improvement," according to the Education Data Partnership. These begin with revising a plan for the school and giving parents the option to transfer their students to schools that are not program improvement, with the district providing transportation. The PUSD has sent a letter to all parents at Pleasanton Middle, giving them that option, and the district also held an informational meeting for parents Thursday night do discuss the issue.

Pleasanton middle has an overall API (Academic Performance Index) of 932, putting it among the top middle schools in the state. The poor performance of the Hispanic students, however, was enough for the program improvement status to kick in, said school spokeswoman Myla Grasso.

"The state established a target this year of 58% proficient or above," Grasso said. "For math, they wound up at 44.2%."

Improving scores for subgroups like Hispanic students, students with disabilities and socio-economically disadvantaged students has been a district priority this year, said Cindy Galbo, assistant superintendent of educational services.

In October, Galbo told the board all three groups have been the focus of extra attention from the district and the problem with all three groups is statewide, not just in Pleasanton, where some gains have been made.

The second year of program improvement would require the school to add professional development and offer tutoring to low-income students. If the school hasn't made its goal in four years, the outcome could be significant restructuring or a state takeover in the fifth year.

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