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Rising test scores allow 5 local schools to thwart outside takeover

September 13, 2010 | 10:00 am

Five Los Angeles-area schools improved so much on state standardized tests that they will no longer be exposed to possible takeover by outside groups, officials announced Monday.

The schools all registered sharply upward gains on the state's Academic Performance Index, which is used to measure all California campuses. Statewide, scores rose, according to the California Department of Education, which released the data on Monday. Scores increased in the Los Angeles Unified School District, although the district trails the state overall.

Los Angeles High in Mid-Wilshire, Huntington Park High in Huntington Park, Audubon Middle in Leimert Park, Harte Middle in Vermont Vista and Woodcrest Elementary in Westmont have been removed from the list for takeover.

Charter school organizations had expressed interest in those campuses. Charters are independently operated and not bound by the district's union contracts. If the charter bids had been successful, then teachers currently at these schools could have been displaced.

But the Academic Performance Index score at each school rose 21 points or more. At Audubon the increase was a sizable 74 points. All schools are now above a total of 600 on the index, a scale from 200 to 1,000.

Not so fortunate are Clay Middle in Athens and Mann Middle in Chesterfield Square.

Both schools made double-digit increases, usually a cause for celebration, but failed to clear 600 overall. The improvement wasn't enough, officials said.

And the score for Muir Middle in Vermont-Slauson went down, so it too remains available to outside bidders.

Groups of bidders also will include teams of teachers from these schools.

Timing and circumstance worked against some schools. Scores at Fremont High continued on a generally upward trend, with a strong 28-point gain. But that improvement didn't take the school over 600, and didn't happen soon enough to prevent a massive restructuring that resulted in most teachers departing.

A similar tale unfolded for Carver Middle and Griffith Joyner Elementary, south of downtown L.A., whose improvement comes to light after the school board voted in February to turn them over to a nonprofit overseen by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Because the mayor's schools honor union contracts, no teachers have been forcibly displaced at these schools.

The state goal is for every school to achieve at least an 800 on the Academic Performance Index. If every student scored as "proficient" on standardized tests, a school would earn an 875. If every student scored as "advanced," the school would achieve 1,000.

-- Howard Blume

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