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Schools Sanctioned by State

Times Staff Writer

Two schools in Los Angeles County are among the first to undergo state sanctions for insufficient academic improvement over the last three years under a new voluntary program for troubled campuses, education officials said Tuesday.

Antelope Valley High School and Wilsona Elementary School, both in Lancaster, are among six campuses facing the new measures in the state’s Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program.

“I am very disappointed that they are not making consistent gains in student achievement,” said State Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “I am required by law to hold these schools accountable.”

A trustee will be appointed to oversee and assist with day-to-day school operations to help performance at Antelope Valley High, along with Alicante Avenue Elementary and Compton Junior High in Kern County.

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Officials viewed the action as the strongest sanction that could have been imposed on the schools, even though the campuses could have been turned into charter schools or closed.

O’Connell said trustees should work collaboratively with administrators and state officials to make sure schools have appropriate resources. Trustees will have a strong hand in operations, with veto power over school principals, he said.

“As they begin to build capital in the school for the principal and district, the idea is they slowly begin to back out of the work

O’Connell plans to appoint trustees within two weeks.

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At Wilsona Elementary, a new state assistance and intervention team will serve as advisors by offering potential solutions to the lack of professional development for math teachers, the need for a parent education program and the need for targeted intervention for English learners and special education students.

“These sanctions are sanctions in name only and, in many respects, are things that I’m actually quite happy about,” Wilsona School District Supt. Ned McNabb said. “Quite frankly, everything we’re trying to do and identifying that we need to do to improve our school scores is in this group of school sanctions.”

Eastin-Arcola Elementary in Madera County and Lexington Elementary in San Diego County also will have new school advisory teams.

The state has also ordered the sanctioned schools to use federal funds to ensure that teachers meet qualification requirements set by the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act. Such money would also give students with poor reading or math skills access to supplemental services, such as after-school or tutoring programs.

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The six Southern California schools sustained sanctions because they failed to improve their academic performance indexes by one point for two consecutive years. The index is calculated from two statewide standardized tests.

The schools, which were among the first 430 to volunteer in the underperforming schools program in 1999, each initially received $50,000 and then $200 per student for two years in exchange for stricter student achievement targets.

The state Department of Education began monitoring those schools that did not achieve performance improvement goals within the first two or three years of the state program. California law requires that after three years of state monitoring, the state superintendent impose at least one sanction on a school that still does not meet its requirement.

Of 1,290 schools in the program, 990 have met their goals and are no longer participating, 78 schools remain under watch and 222 have been monitored.

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