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Valley Perspective

School Scores

April 22, 2001

The March issue of "California Educator" identified five significant differences between the top- and bottom-performing schools based on their Academic Performance Index scores.

The study found that schools with the lowest API scores had fewer credentialed teachers, student populations that are largely minority, students who are poor or speak limited English, and year-around schedules to alleviate overcrowding.

Over which of these deficiencies does a school district have jurisdiction?

School districts can't choose the socioeconomic level or ethnic makeup of their student populations. And ending year-round scheduling and alleviating overcrowding mean providing the resources necessary to build new schools. Yet voters have repeatedly defeated bond measures that would have provided the resources necessary for new school construction.

If schools are to improve student performance, the linchpin, the essential ingredient, is employing a credentialed teacher for every classroom. Without that, all the talk about testing, charter schools and voucher plans will be little more than a summer breeze on the educational winds of change.

DARWUB M. OCHS

Lancaster

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