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Big score for school esteem

October 07, 2000

Irma Lemus

BURBANK -- Last year at this time, many people were ready to give up

on her school, Linda Reksten said.

But after the release this week of 2000 Academic Performance Index

scores by the state Department of Education, the Walt Disney Elementary

School principal said her students and staff have proved their critics

wrong.

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Disney's impressive jump of 94 points -- the biggest improvement in

the district -- lifted the school from the bottom to the top half of the

district's elementary school rankings. Disney surpassed its 2000

improvement target of 613 by 84 points, scoring 697. The school's 1999

API score was 603.

Intensive efforts during the past year have paid off, Reksten said.

Extended school days, restructuring of the school's curriculum and parent

involvement all were part of the equation.

"There is no one silver bullet, but what I will say that it was a big

effort by the entire staff and hundreds of parents," Reksten said. "Our

students had a lot to work on, but they proved they could do it."

Disney was not the only school that did poorly on the API in 1999 only

to show dramatic improvement in 2000. At Providencia Elementary School,

scores jumped 83 points, from 587 to 670. Like Disney, Providencia far

surpassed its improvement goal.

REAPING REWARDS

All Burbank Unified schools except David Starr Jordan Middle School

and Burbank High School will receive state reward money for their scores.

In addition, dozens if not hundreds of Burbank teachers could be in the

running for incentive bonuses, with those at schools showing the most

improvement having the best chance.

With an 88% improvement rate overall, the district expects at least

$1.6 million, officials said. The exact amount to be given to local

teachers and schools will not be known until December.

The API measures overall student performance at California public

schools. The state has set an 800 as the target schools should strive to

meet. The Stanford 9 exam given to students in grades 2-11 each spring is used to determine a school's API score.

Although no Burbank schools met the 800 target, all save Jordan and

Burbank High met their improvement targets. Jordan dropped eight points

from last year, scoring 685 on the 2000 API.

"We are really disappointed. For the past eight years our scores have

been going up, and this is just one snapshot in time. Unfortunately, we

didn't do so well," Jordan Principal Mary Margaret Kljunak said.

For the second straight year, Thomas Jefferson Elementary had the

highest score in the district. Jefferson scored 776, 34 points higher

than its 1999 total of 742 and just 24 points behind the state target for

excellence.

"We are obviously delighted," said Lynn Perske, Jefferson principal.

She said she expected her students to reach 800 on the 2001 API.

She wasn't alone.

"I really expect us to score 800 in the next few years," Disney's

Reksten said. "If we have been able to improve this much, we're able to

do it."

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