Although many school officials in Los Angeles County privately express reservations about the state Department of Education's cash-incentive program to improve scores on the California Assessment Program tests, they publicly laud the reward system--especially if their school won.
This year, 134 county high schools will receive bonus money, ranging from $219 at Rosemead High School in the El Monte school district to $168,800 at Bell Gardens High School in the Montebello district.
Statewide, 548 high schools, or 48%, raised their scores in reading, writing, mathematics and spelling to qualify for the incentive money. Other factors determining the amount of the awards include the number of students who took the test and how well they performed in specific categories. A total of $14.6 million will be distributed this year, the second year of the state-financed program.
"I couldn't begin to tell you how excited we were without carrying on like a maniac," said Bell Gardens Principal Frances Riley. The Montebello school earned the second-highest amount in the state, following Roosevelt High School in Fresno, which won $192,000.
Bell Gardens did not qualify for a cash award last year, Riley said, so the staff and students doubled their efforts to prepare this year's seniors to take the test and hoped their hard work would pay off.
"All I was worrying about was a couple thousand dollars to pay for annuals for the seniors," Riley said. "When we found out how much we won, we could not believe it. I thought for sure some error had been made."
Most of the winning schools have yet to decide how they will spend their earnings. Under the state guidelines, each school must establish a committee of students, teachers and parents to determine how the money will be used.
Last year, many schools used the funds to beautify their campuses or to purchase new computers and other supplies. Others also tried to use a portion of the cash to help seniors with their graduation expenses.
Parents, Community Pitched In
Another big winner was Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, which will receive $127,214. Principal Wayne Piercy said the entire school, parents and community members got involved this year to encourage seniors to take the optional test, which is administered in December. Last year only 89% of the graduating class opted to take it, but this year that figure rose to 98%. The seniors' scores rose slightly over last year's in all four areas.
According to state guidelines, a school qualifies for the incentive award if its overall score rises and if at least 93% of the seniors took the exam. In Los Angeles County, as in the state as a whole, scores generally rose this year, except in reading, which dipped slightly.
Sample Questions For 12th Graders
LYING IN A HAMMOCK AT WILLIAM DUFFY'S FARM IN PINE ISLAND, MINN.
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
Which of the following best describes the speaker's hammock experience? dullness awareness boredom tranquility.
The seven sentences below are in a scrambled order. Some of them can be put together to make a single, unified paragraph. Before attempting to answer any questions, read all of the sentences carefully.
A It probably received its name from its copper-colored head which is triangular.
B Like the rattlesnake, it is a member of the pit viper family having a hollow or pit between the eye and the nostril.
C The copperhead was once the most common and widely distributed of all venomous snakes in the United States.
D This may be the reason that Democrats in the North who sympathized with the South in the Civil War were called "copperheads," for they were suspected of treachery.
E Unlike the rattlesnake, it has no rattles and strikes without warning.
F Augustus Thomas wrote a full length drama that he called The Copperhead .
G Today, however, it is most frequently found in sparsely settled areas of the South.
Which sentence most logically follows sentence C?
Answers: awareness. Sentence G.
AWARDS TO SCHOOLS