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FUHS SARC details student proficiency levels - The second in a three-part series of the recent release of Fallbrook Union High School District's School Accountability Report C

Fallbrook Union High School (FUHS) recently presented its School Accountability Report Card (SARC) to the board of trustees at their monthly meeting on January 11. The reports – which are intended to provide parents and community members with a “quick snapshot of school accountability” – presented data for the 2008-2009 academic school year.

According to the report, out of the 669 seniors enrolled in FUHS during the 2008-2009 academic year, 94.3 percent completed requirements to graduate with their diploma. Of those students, 55.63 percent were able to complete a career technical education program and earned a high school diploma, and 30.6 percent of the graduates were able to complete all the courses required for University of California or California State University admission.

“Every student has the opportunity to attend a four-year school. There was a time when this wasn’t true,” said FUHS principal Rod King. “We are also one of the few schools left that allows students in their sophomore or junior year to study technical education. We are fortunate to still offer workshop, auto mechanic shop, metal shop, fashion and design, cooking and ROP programs. However, there is a concern [regarding these classes] when it comes to budget. Core classes are what drive a school’s curriculum. A lot of schools are fighting for their electives.”

According to the SARC, approximately 60.1 percent of students who took the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) were found to be proficient (27.8 percent) or advanced (32.3 percent) in English-Language Arts in the 2008-2009 year, a slight increase from the 59.3 percent in 2007-2008. In Mathematics, students had a slight decrease in proficiency, with 55.4 percent of students being proficient (36.7 percent) or advanced (18.7 percent), as opposed to the 55.5 percent who were proficient or advanced in 2007-2008.

“We want to continue growth in our scores,” said King, who said that during the initial senior testing period in October, 58 students took the test, with 45 percent passing the mathematics section of the test and 36 percent passing English-Language Arts.

According to King, more sophomores and juniors were able to pass the CAHSEE. In 2009, 684 sophomores took the mathematics section of the CAHSEE, with 85 percent of the students (578) passing. 683 sophomores took the English-Language Arts part of the CAHSEE, with 84 percent of the students (571) passing.

“[The CAHSEE] actually gives us information on how well our students are mastering the standards the state requires,” said assistant superintendent Jim Yahr. “Last year and this year, the San Diego County Office of Education started working with us in our Mathematics and English-Language Arts programs. The program starts by defining what standards are required for the course; it explains what key elements should be mastered before moving on. Our teachers have the day-to-day insight on what the students have mastered.”

Of the 2,941 students enrolled at FUHS, 18.84 percent of students were enrolled in at least one of the 12 advanced placement courses offered at the high school; 65.8 percent of students were enrolled in courses required for University of California or California State University admission, with 30.6 percent of these students completing all of the required courses.

The SARC also reported that students who took the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program – which consists of the California Standards Tests (CSTs), the California Modified Assessment (CMA) and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) – 53 percent of the students were deemed as proficient or advanced (meeting or exceeding the state standards) in English-Language Arts. This was an increase from the 48 percent of students who were proficient in 2007-2008. Twenty-seven percent of students were proficient or advanced in mathematics, an increase from 23 percent in 2007-2008; 47 percent of students were proficient or advanced in science, an increase from 39 percent; and 48 percent of students were proficient or advanced in history-social science, an increase from the 38 percent in 2007-2008.

Out of the students who took the CSTs (which includes an assessment of English-Language Arts and mathematics in grades 2 - 11; sciences in grades 5, 8 and 9 - 11; and history-social science in grades 8 and 10 - 11), 45.86 percent of students were found to be proficient or advanced in English-Language Arts; 17.88 percent were found to be proficient or advanced in mathematics; 40.08 percent were found to be proficient or advanced in science; and 29.23 percent were found to be proficient or advanced in history-social science.

“We found that our CST clusters in math, English-Language and social-sciences took good strides,” said King. “Even our English Language Learners grew 10 points. We continue to improve.”

“Students are an important piece of [CSTs],” said Yahr. “These examinations are a reflection of their own learning. We need to show them what the standards are.”

“It is helpful to break down the learned topics,” continued Yahr. “For example, when a student is in an algebra course, they will talk about the quadratic equation. If we can break that down into smaller, understandable pieces, there is a better chance of understanding. We have to show students how this applies to their life.”

The FUHS’ Academic Performance Index (API) Ranking – which is an annual measure of the academic performance and progress of schools in California – also saw growth, said King. API scores range from 200 to 1,000, with a statewide target of 800. FUHS obtained a 751 in the 2008-2009 academic year. The school also received a six out of 10 in statewide ranking when compared to similar schools across the state.

“We jumped 23 points, which is pretty significant,” said King. “The staff has worked with their resources to reach our learning targets.”

Fallbrook High was able to meet state requirements in four out of the six Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) criteria.

“We are pleased with Fallbrook High,” said Yahr. “In three years, four of the subgroups have increased into the proficient or advanced levels [on the API ranking]. While we are not where we want to be, we are growing as a whole. Our subgroups, such as the English-Language learners, have improved significantly.”

To improve its AYP, FUHS has taken steps to address the needs of its students who are still struggling with certain core studies.

“We have set personal goals with our students,” said King. “We want the students to see how close they are to being proficient or basic, so we are working at our level of awareness of the importance of these tests. Nobody likes to take tests, but they are important.”

FUHS also offers strategic classes in mathematics and English-Language Arts, as well as additional help with math.

“We also have a self-improvement program and a freshmen advisory class. In it, 90 to 100 freshmen work with junior and seniors in ‘link crews’ of four to six students to be tutored. The class is set up to follow the AVID model, and we are excited about the growth.”

The needs of the high school’s English-Language Learners are also being addressed by offering the “Pathway to Success.”

“We have a parent welcome center, where we try to gain more involvement from parents. It has been huge for success,” said King, who stated that, with the help of English Language coordinator Melissa Marovich, the needs of English-Language Learners have been more adequately met.

“What a blessing [Marovich] is,” said King. “We have one person who oversees their needs and is more supportive of their needs. We are able to offer more classes [that support English Language Learners] before, during and after school.”

Throughout the school, teachers have seen the importance of having a good rapport with their students, as it allows for a better teaching environment and better student performance.

“Our teachers build a rapport with their students,” said King. “Students don’t care what you know until they know that you care. We relate curriculum to the students’ life, and why it is relevant for students.”

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