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'Team Effort Boosts Student Performance'

The new school year began with great news for local schools. Thanks to your dedicated efforts, the latest test results from the California Department of Education show our students making steady and solid gains. More and more schools are reaching the state’s goals for academic achievement. Most schools are meeting and often far exceeding schoolwide growth targets on the state’s Academic Performance Index. In fact, the Long Beach Unified School District’s performance on the API, which measures growth in student achievement, continues to surpass that of the state. The state’s ultimate target for each school is an API score of 800. Our school district as a whole continues to move closer to that overall goal, with a newly calculated score of 724, up from 685 in 2003. Long Beach Unified again remains ahead of the state’s average, now calculated at 720. What’s more, among California’s 15 largest urban school districts, Long Beach has the highest percentage of schools showing some growth on the API. Also impressive is the number of individual schools here that have reached the state’s ultimate target of 800. Twenty-five schools in our district have now reached or exceeded this high standard. That’s a substantial increase from the nine schools that had met the same goal just three years ago. Tremendous progress also is being made in Advanced Placement college preparatory courses. Students who pass AP tests can earn thousands of dollars worth of college credit while getting a head start on college coursework. Since 2003, the number of AP course enrollments in our schools has grown by about 50 percent to 3,866. Progress is being made by all groups of students. During the same three-year period, for instance, AP course enrollment for African American students increased by 75 percent. For Latino students, the number grew by 62 percent. This progress is a direct result of intensive efforts at the high school level to encourage greater participation in these advanced courses. Long Beach Unified was one of the first school districts to pay for and require students to take the PSAT exam in tenth grade, helping to identify more students who have the potential to attend college. The increase in AP coursework, coupled with intensive efforts to help all students pass the California High School Exit Exam, is helping to give our high school students brighter futures. While there is much more work to be done, all of you, in each of your roles, can take pride that you are helping to accomplish our vital mission: to support the personal and intellectual success of every student, every day. I deeply appreciate your dedication and hard work, as do the thousands of parents who entrust their children to our care. Best wishes for a safe and successful school year.