Livingston High principal to share secrets of school's success with others at state symposium

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comNovember 15, 2013 

— Livingston High School Principal Ralph Calderon will share some secrets with fellow educators this week on how the campus has worked hard to help its students succeed.

Calderon will be one of 20 educators on a panel symposium Wednesday in Sacramento conducted by the WestEd educational research firm. His school has the highest exit exam passage rate in the history of the Merced Union High School District, and its students continually achieve at levels higher than expected.

“It’s a big honor for the school to be recognized as a school beating the odds,” Calderon said. “We target at-risk students so nobody consistently fails; we try to change that.”

Calderon will be joined at the symposium by representatives of Segerstrom High School in the Santa Ana Unified School District, Orange County; Sierra Vista Middle School in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, Los Angeles County; and West Campus High School in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Livingston High students have a positive view of their campus, Calderon said, and the school attempts to get students involved in activities so they stay connected to school.

Tammie Calzadillas, high school district assistant superintendent for educational services, said Calderon’s selection for the symposium is an honor and the second time they have been included in such an event.

“Teachers take a leadership role and personal responsibility for the success of students on campus,” Calzadillas said. “A student has to try really hard not to be successful. We are creating a climate of support and success for their kids. They truly beat the odds.”

The symposium is titled “Voices of Success: How a Group of California Schools Used Climate and Other Strategies to Beat the Achievement Odds.” About 30 school, district and state level educators from throughout California are expected to attend the symposium.

Through its Wolfpack 9 program, which works with at-risk students, Calderon reported there have been fewer discipline issues and no incidents of drug or alcohol abuse.

WestEd is a research organization that has worked with the state Department of Education in data gathering. The group published a study last spring, identifying a select group of California middle schools and high schools that performed much better than predicted on standardized tests of math and English language arts.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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