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Schools Working Hard To Boost Achievement

Californians want higher student achievement and the Long Beach Unified School District is determined to provide it. In both its high ranking schools and underperforming schools, the push is on here to make major academic gains for students this year. Motivated by exemplary Board of Education initiatives beginning as early as 1995--well in advance of the state's accountability policy--teachers and schools in the Long Beach Unified School District are tackling a series of no-nonsense steps to increase what local students at every grade level know and can do. Despite encouraging results for most schools here on the statewide "Similar School Ranking," the district recently restructured its top district staff to make growth in student achievement its highest priority. New Deputy Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser is heading up the well organized efforts of California's third largest school district. "This is the most tenacious push for providing literacy and math skill growth that I've seen in my 18 years in public education," said Steinhauser. "We're not complacent. We're challenging high achieving schools to do even better and assisting underperforming schools in making dramatic improvements. We expect significant growth this year as these important steps get results for thousands of students." He outlined steps now being taken to get the job done this year: Elementary Schools • All underperforming schools are now teaching Open Court phonics. • All schools have new spelling books--Scholastic or Harcourt. • All schools using Open Court phonics also have a literacy coach one day a week. • Selected schools have a math coach. • Selected schools are implementing Breaking the Code phonics instruction for students achieving below grade level. • All principals visit classrooms every day to monitor student progress in reading and math. Middle Schools • All schools provide after-school tutoring for students below grade level in reading and math. • All schools are implementing Breaking the Code phonics instruction. • All principals are monitoring student progress every month. High Schools • All schools are implementing Breaking the Code phonics for students reading below grade level. • All schools offer PLATO, a computerized individual learning program in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. • Administrators are receiving literacy instruction training. • High school teachers in their subject areas attend seminars on reading instruction. • Teachers also attend professional development workshops in math that stress systematic review, math instruction, basic and advanced math skills and intervention. • Teachers attend seminars focusing on strategies for teaching, assessing and evaluating writing. • Department administrators stress achievement in core subjects based on higher district standards, state frameworks, assessment and increased accountability. • Administrators and teachers participate in workshops on effective teaching techniques. Districtwide • End-of-course math tests are used to assure mastery of key concepts. • Essential Elements of Instruction training in effective teaching techniques is provided for teachers and administrators.