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UPDATE: CUSD Misses Academic Goals Again

Like most other Orange County school districts, Capo Unified fell short of standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. A letter to parents offered confusing statements on whether students met English and math goals.

Clarification: Although the second paragraph in Capo Unified's letter to parents mistakenly claimed students surpassed federal performance goals in English and math, the first paragraph of the letter indicates otherwise. It says:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that CUSD has been identified for Program Improvement Year 3 according to the criteria of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)/No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This legislation supports Capistrano Unified School District's efforts to provide a strong standards-based educational program for all students. ESEA/NCLB identifies those districts that receive funds under ESEA/NCLB, Title 1 Part A, as Program Improvement (PI) districts after two consecutive years of not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) within specific areas and subgroups. California determines AYP by considering the percentage of students scoring at the "proficient" or "advanced" level on the California Standards Tests for English-language arts and mathematics and the Academic Performance Index (API).

Original story, headlined "CUSD Officials' Math a Little Fuzzy," updated Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.:

Maybe it’s the new math?

Last week, parents in the Capistrano Unified School District received a letter offering confusing information on whether CUSD students met state proficiency targets in English and math.

One portion of the letter reads: “Seventy-six percent of the students tested were proficient or advanced in English-language arts and 74.8 percent were proficient or advanced in math, surpassing the state academic proficiency targets of 78 percent (English-language arts) and 78.2 percent (math).”

When Patch asked how scores of 76 percent and 74.8 percent could "surpass" goals of 78 percent, school district spokesman Marcus Walton said: “There was a mistake in the initial letter sent to parents. As the numbers indicate, the district did not surpass the proficiency targets this year."

A corrected version of the letter was posted Wednesday on the school district’s website, saying 76 percent and 74.8 percent were “near” the state’s targets.

The purpose of the letter was to inform parents that Capo Unified is in its third year of “program improvement,” a euphemistic label for failing to meet academic achievement goals set by the government. Most other Orange County school districts are also on program improvement.

CUSD was first labeled a program improvement district in 2010 for not meeting standards of the No Child Left Behind law, which requires all students to be at least proficient in English and math by 2014, according to the district

Specifically, the district’s English learners and disabled students didn't meet their targets in 2010. The same is true this year, according to the state Department of Education.

The numbers show that several subgroups did not meet their “adequate yearly progress” goals, including:

  • African-Americans
  • Latinos
  • American Indians or Native Alaskans (math only)
  • Poor students
  • English learners
  • Disabled students

School districts placed on program improvement must take steps to reverse the situation. The district plan to achieve its targets can be found here.

Twenty-two of Orange County’s 28 school districts are on program improvement. A school district exits program improvement when it meets its goals for all subgroups for two consecutive years, according to the Orange County Department of Education.

fact checker November 03, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Joanna, I totally agree.
Debbie Lackie November 04, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Great points, Deborah and Shelly. NCLB is a "one size fits all" model that sets rigid, unrealistic goals for academic gains, ignores the diversity of our children, and contradicts itself by requiring L.E.P. students to score proficient on English exams. It also requires special needs students to demonstrate competency in the same manner as other students. Before anyone gets "livid" I would suggest they do their research on NCLB and its unrealistic demands on schools and teachers. Because of these ridiculous requirements, most schools will end up on program improvement, even schools with very high API scores. This law has made the boosting of test scores the primary goal of schools. Test scores should not be the only way for our students and teachers to show they have been successful. What parents should be livid about is the fact that there are people who believe our children should be bunched into one big number instead of being looked at as individuals. Academic success should be defined differently for every child. Thank you to the many CUSD teachers who take the time to know their students and meet their individual needs.
Penny Arévalo November 05, 2012 at 02:34 PM
A memo clarifying the Oct. 12 mailed letter went out to parents last night (9:40 p.m. Sunday) in the latest issue of the district's weekly email, Capo Talk.
fact checker November 05, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Making an error is one thing. Correcting it and apologizing if it was misleading is the right thing to do. Refusing to acknowledge an error is another thing. The Patch has published erroneous information and corrected it on occasion (haven't seen the apology part). Many posters on these boards have posted misleading and erroneous information. Some have corrected themselves. Many have not.
rbmom November 07, 2012 at 03:46 AM
The modified version calculates as below basic in an API calculation, pulling down a school's overall score. The only exceptions are parents who don't send their kids for testing or students who have been here for less than half the year. Schools with high special Ed populations (even bused in for a special program) are adversely affected.

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