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Burbank schools make the grade

July 26, 2003

Molly Shore

Burbank public schools have exceeded federal standards for reading,

writing and math, according to new academic performance indicators

released this week.

Nearly 39% of Burbank Unified students tested last year were

proficient in English-language arts, and nearly 42% were proficient

in math, according to the Adequate Yearly Progress Report, a

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component of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The baseline numbers for students statewide were 12% for reading

and writing and 12.8% for math.

"All of our schools made their [2002] goal for proficient or

above," said Caroline Brumm, the district's coordinator of student

and program evaluation.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, signed into law by President

George W. Bush, mandates that all public schools must be 100%

proficient in English-language arts and math by 2014.

Progress-report criteria encompasses four parts, including annual

measurable objectives in English and math, a 95% student

participation rate, growth in the Academic Performance Index score of

at least one point a year, and improvement in the high school

graduation rate of 0.1% from the prior year.

The progress report released Thursday gives the district a

starting point for the 2003 report, the results of which will be

known Aug. 15.

"It's an important concept because if you fail [the yearly

progress report] two times, you go into the No Child Left Behind

interventions," said Bill Padia, director of policy evaluation for

the state Department of Education.

In the past, states had the authority to determine the criteria

for yearly progress, but the federal government now dictates the

methodology for calculating whether a school made it or didn't make

it, said Pat McCabe, administrator in the state department's policy

and evaluation unit.

"We think the [Academic Performance Index] is a better measure,"

said McCabe, referring to the state's existing testing program. "It

better tracks whether a school is improving or not because it

measures growth along the entire scale, not whether a school is above

or below proficient."

The performance index also rewards improvement, McCabe said.

"You could be low and improving, and in the old methodology that

was good," he said. "Now if you're low and improving, you still may

not make [Adequate Yearly Progress] because of the cut line they're

defining."

Brumm said that the district is analyzing its data to see where

students are, and what measures must be taken to increase the

percentages to stay above the cut line.

"We have high expectations on the part of teachers, administrators

and parents to increase student motivation," she said.

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