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Student Achievement Shows Strong Gains

State test results for 2005 report the Long Beach Unified School District exceeded both the academic growth of Los Angeles County and the State of California. According to the California Department of Education, the school district’s overall Academic Performance Index (API) showed LBUSD entering the milestone "700 Club" by increasing 27 points over last year in traditional calendar schools. In comparison, L.A. County schools increased 19 points, and statewide schools increased 20 points. Countywide the average API is 693. The statewide average is 709. Long Beach’s average is 721. The state report also showed Long Beach Unified School District meeting national Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets. More students here have become proficient in English and math. This achievement was attained by all ethnic subgroups and for socio-economically-disadvantaged students. This is no small accomplishment. Long Beach is the most diverse large city in the United States, with more than 46 languages spoken at home by local students. Local schools continue to show strong academic growth despite these tremendous challenges and the fact that the state budget crisis has forced more than $80 million in cuts from the local school district budget over the past four years. The school district has kept away from the classroom any cuts needed to balance the budget. The percent of local students in grades two through eight who are proficient increased an average of 10 points in English and 8.5 points in math on the most recent California Stan-dards Tests. Also increasing are the numbers of students passing the new California High School Exit Exam. Approximately 82 percent of local students in the high school class of 2006 have already passed the exam’s English section, while 80 percent have passed math. High school seniors will have two more chances to pass before this June’s deadline. The school district’s continued achievement gains can be attributed to intensive efforts to provide additional help to any students who are struggling to meet California’s new academic standards—some of the most challenging in the nation. The goal of all California schools is to achieve an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 800. Two years ago, schools in the Long Beach Unified School District had an average API score of 694. Last year it jumped to 721. This year another significant increase is expected. These numbers may be revised slightly once the school district receives data for its year-round schools in the coming days. Long Beach Unified School District this year had only three of its 91 schools identified as at-risk schools, an amazing feat for a school district that serves the most diverse large city in the U.S. with the sixth highest poverty rate among major U.S. cities. No large school district in California had fewer schools identified as "at risk" Program Improvement schools in 2005. Of California’s 10 largest school systems, only Garden Grove, a national Broad Prize winner like Long Beach, had a lower percentage of Program Improvement schools. Not only does Long Beach have very few at-risk schools, it has highly successful schools. Based on state test results, approximately 90 percent of schools here increased their Academic Performance Index, up from 80 percent a year earlier. Almost 85 percent of schools in the district met or exceeded their state test growth targets—one of the best records among urban school districts.