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More Stanislaus schools meet state goals; 50 falter on federal level

Nearly two-thirds of schools in Stanislaus County met overall improvement targets set for them by the state, according to data released today.

The state Department of Education handed each school its Academic Performance Index, or API score, a number ranging from 200 to 1,000 based heavily on annual standardized tests. All schools are expected to reach an API of 800.

This year, 25 county schools scored at or above the state benchmark of 800, up from 10 in 2004.

For the first time, the state also required the same amount of progress for traditionally low-achieving subgroups and the school as a whole.

In the past, Latino and black students, among others, only had to make 80 percent of the progress expected of the entire school.

County schools were slightly less effective this year in reaching the more ambitious goals for these subgroups. Less than half of schools were able to meet API goals for all groups.

But even when schools show improvement on their API score, they can find themselves in trouble with Uncle Sam.

Also released today was the AYP, or Adequate Yearly Progress, report, which is a pass-or-fail system. A school can pass AYP only if a certain percentage all groups of students — by race, income and disability — achieve proficiency.

About 50 Stanislaus County schools found themselves on a “program improvement” list this year, which means they failed at least one federal improvement target for two years straight.

Only two of the roughly 40 schools on last year’s dreaded list — Oakdale’s Cloverland Elementary and Chatom Elementary near Turlock — were able to make enough improvement to exit.

“What’s difficult is you can be making growth, but it’s easy to lose sight of that because of the system,” said Susan Rich with the county Department of Education. “The truth is, more kids are proficient than ever before.”