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L.A. Schools Test Scores

November 08, 1998

* Re "School Test Scores Missing Key Parts of the Equation," Oct. 28: The suggestion that my "100 schools" plan has been "derailed" by critics is in error. Far from being derailed, I have extended the 100 schools plan to all schools in the district that are not showing improvement in test scores. Any school whose scores go down in two consecutive years will be placed on academic probation. This is exactly the same procedure that was applied to the 100 schools.

The article is incorrect in asserting that the 100 schools plan was designed to "put principals on the spot." I have said all along that when a school is put on academic probation, it is the entire school community that is on probation. Although principals are key players, they should not be held solely responsible for a school's academic achievement. Teachers, parents, staff and students all share in this responsibility and without their help, improvement would be impossible. My message to every school community in this district is that they must improve student achievement.

RUBEN ZACARIAS

Superintendent, LAUSD

* I agree that schools should not use factors such as poverty, student mobility or student language background as an excuse. But neither can we ignore the reality that schools in certain locations have a much more difficult job meeting the same achievement standards (especially those measured on standardized tests) than schools in more "middle-class" areas. Your finding that some of these "privileged area" schools are, in fact, doing less well than they should be doing, when poverty and student language and mobility factors are counted into the equation, was enlightening but not surprising. Teachers and administrators in poverty-area schools may, in fact, be working harder to help these students catch up.

Parents make a major difference in preparing children during their first five years of life for later school success. Parents who can afford to provide their children with a rich background of readiness experiences do have an advantage. I hope more people will become aware of how important these home factors are.

CHRISTA METZGER

Santa Monica

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