Low tests scores are losing the Fresno Unified School District millions of dollars. It will be pulled from four schools in the district because of their end of the year test scores.
The money comes from a state funded program. It was a three year deal that gave the schools over $2 million each year; the funding cut will result in a total loss of more than $6 million.
The test scores in the Fresno Unified School District are failing to show student improvement. It's putting a big red "x" on state funding from the QEIA program. “It’s poorly constructed and designed as a teacher employment plan,” says Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson.
The funding is given to nearly 20 schools in Fresno Unified's district; it requires schools to hire experienced teachers and provide smaller classes for students. To receive QEIA funding, schools have to meet six different requirements; one of the requirements is high API test scores. In Fresno, four schools numbers aren't hitting the mark. “I won’t dodge this; we didn't hit academic targets at those four schools,” says Hanson.
API tests are given at the end of the year; it's a comprehensive exam based off the students’ knowledge in language, history, science and math. When scores are too low, Fresno's Office of Education Assistant Superintendent Kathryn Catania says it’s because “the students learning isn't progressing with the material they were supposed to have learned”.
Fresno Unified says its low scores are a result of its schools decision to raise the bar. “We are challenging kids into more rigorous math; our scores didn't move—they dropped in fact—because we challenged the kids to a higher level of math and didn’t hit our targets,” says Hanson.
The schools not making the grade are Sequoia Middle School, Tehipite Middle School, Yosemite Middle School and Lane Elementary. With the program’s money, the schools expanded by hiring teachers, adding buildings and reducing class sizes. But now without it, class sizes at the four schools will increase and nearly 30 teaching positions will be lost.
The district says Lane Elementary's API test scores were a result of a personnel problem—one year, it did not even get a score which lowered its average. The district says that's because there was a testing irregularity with one of its teachers; the district reported it and that caused the school to forfeit its API scores for the year.
The four schools test scores just barely missed the mark, but the district says once a school loses the funding, it's gone for good.
Christina Lusby Reporting.