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Beverly Hills Weekly
Beverly Hills, California
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February 3, 2000     Beverly Hills Weekly
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February 3, 2000
 

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FirsL the BHUSD benefits from a Joint Powers Agreement CJPA") between the City of Beverly Hills and the BHUSD. Stated simply, this means that, in exchange for use of certain school district facilities, the City "gives" a minimum of approximately $6 mil- lion dollars per year to the school district to supplement their annual budget. While a handful of other cities help their local districts with additional funding, none come close to the magnitude of the BHUSD's JPA (at over $1000 per student). There's no doubt that this extra funding buys better resources for our schools. Consequently, the BHUSD is one of the best funded districts in the state. So shouldn't this extra funding equate to higher achieving students? Generally, the answer is yes, but the Stanford 9 results indicated that this was not the case with all of our schools. Also, why is it thaL amongst the schools in the top echelon, the BHUSD is routinely out-performed by schools in San Marina, La Canada, and Palos Verdes, when these schools spend less money per pupil then we do? Some have argued that much of our funding gets swallowed up at the administrative level and never filters down to the teachers in the classroom. While it is true that most administrators in the district office earn salaries that are more than double the amount of the average teacher, that alone could not explain the disparity in student performance. So what does? THE HIGHS AND LOWS In our attempt to carefully scrutinize the performance of our schools, we present the following data. Beverly High scored well, placing seventh amongst schools in Los Angeles County, and 27th in the state, based on their overall API index. Our elementary school scores, however, presented a different story. While all our ele- mentary schools scored in the top 10% of the API rankings, there were still 200 ele- mentary and middle schools in California that outperformed all four of our elementary schools. None of our four elementary schools ranked in the top 50 schools in Los Angeles County in Grade 2 math, language, or spelling. A closer examination of the Stanford 9 data gives some clues as to why this might be the case. Horace Mann deserves special recognition for their exemplary performance at the 5th grade level. Horace Mann was the #1 school in Los Angeles County in Grade 5 spelling, the #2 school in Los Angeles County in Grade 5 math, and the #3 school in Los Angeles County in Grade 5 language. El Rodeo, on the other hamL.4xovides the first example of an area in our district that needs improvement. El Rodeo ranked #170 in Los Angeles County in Grade 2 math- behind schools in Downey, Bellflower and lnglewood. When we contacted E1 Rodeo principal Steve Fisher for his analysis on these unusu- al findings, he told us that he could not commenL and "all statements regarding test scores must come from the district office". Wait a minute. A principal cannot even comment on his own school's performance on a standardized test? This incredulous response shocked us. Perhaps this helps explain why El Rodeo scored a "4" in the comparative school rankings (corresponding to a 30 percentile ranking compared to similar schools). And possibly this is exactly the type of accountability we need to raise some of our lower scores. According to the district, they are unable to determine the cause of the low compara- tive school ranking for El Rodeo. "None of us have figured it out," Diane Dawson, assis- tam superintendent-of educational services, said at a press conference last week. "We don't have an explanation right now. Hopefully the state departing, t will make that information available." SOME LAUSD SCHOOLS OUTPERFORM BE3/F.RLY HILLS Another surprising finding was the comparative API strength of some of the LAUSD schools that border the BHUSD. Warner Avenue school in Westwood, Roscomare Road school in Brentwood, and Wonderland Avenue school in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles beat all four of our elementary schools in the API rankings. How is this possible? Not only is per-pupil spending lower at these campuses, but the chronic mismanagement of the LAUSD is Well-documented in the news media. Yet it is apparently not visible in these schools impressive, above-average performance. The Beverly Hills Weekly will he anxiously awaiting the next round ofAPI ranldngs, due in September. Only through hard work and careful improvements can the Beverly Hills schools be expected to stay on top. I WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE STANFORD 9 RESULTS? Send us an e-marl at editor@bhweekl.com In the best Italian Fashion! Served your way! Charles Perry, L.A. 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