District expects rise on exam scores

GLENDALE — District officials estimate a 12-point gain on the state accountability exam, a significant increase that could add to local property values, officials said.

Glendale Unified officials estimate their score on the Academic Performance Index could hit 842, up from 830 last year. The scores range from 200 to 1,000, and state leaders have designed 800 or above as the desired target.

"It's attributed to all the hard work of our teachers and site administrators, and … the effective use of data," Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

The Academic Performance Index and its related federal goals are individual snapshots, he said. District officials use multiple measures to review and monitor student growth and academic achievement.

"It is one of many helpful measures we look at to assess how successful the district's being," Sheehan said. "We're pleased with our progress, and that there are still several areas in which we need to focus and improve."

The state Department of Education is scheduled to release formal results from state and federal standardized tests next week. The data will also determine whether Glendale campuses will be designated as Program Improvement, a status for schools that do not meet federal standards in consecutive years.

Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson said all districts are facing challenges because of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The federal law instructed states to write their own standards and expectations, and California approved a plan where all schools must be 100% proficient in math and English by 2014.

"Teachers are working harder than ever and encouraging the parents and community and the students to do the same," Carlson said. "We're all under a lot of pressure as each year goes by, and we come nearer to that 100% proficiency that will be required [in 2014] and is impossible to reach."

More than 44% of Glendale students are not proficient in English, according to the California Standards Test results released last month by the state. The percentage of students who score below proficiency has declined in recent years, but obstacles remain.

Federal academic targets are a zero-sum game, and with current law requiring 100% proficiency in fewer than four years, teachers feel pressure to teach to the test, Carlson said.

"It's taking away from teaching critical thinking skills, which our country needs to stay competitive in a global economy," she said.

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