Visalia Unified reduces number of schools on the list from seven to three, overall Tulare County schools on the list dropped from 20 to 17
By Reggie Ellis
TULARE COUNTY – The number of local campuses among the state’s lowest performing schools went down this year.
Twenty schools—including eight elementary, three continuation high, charter high and community day schools, two middle schools as well as an independent study program and special education program— were on the 2018 list of schools needing comprehensive support and improvement (CSI), identified as schools which need the greatest level of support. On Jan. 31, the California Department of Education (CDE) released the 2019 list of CSI schools, which included 17 Tulare County schools, as some schools moved off the list while others were added. This year’s list included five elementary, four continuation high, two charter high and two community day schools as well as an independent study and special education program.
States are required to report the list to identify schools that need additional support as part of their compliance with the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act. The intent of the Obama-era law was to hold schools accountable for their performance by identifying deficiencies in not only academics but social-emotional indicators to pinpoint support rather than punish schools with struggling pupils.
Seven of the 20 schools on the 2018 list were in the Visalia Unified School District, the highest percentage for any school district in the county. VUSD schools identified as lowest performing were Houston Elementary, Goshen Elementary, Pinkham Elementary, Royal Oaks Elementary, Willow Glen Elementary, Divisadero Middle School, and Sequoia High School. One school, Valley Oak Middle School, was identified as eligible for Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), where schools receive support for specific student groups that are consistently underperforming.
“These subgroups are usually homeless or foster youth and it could be as few as 30 students,” said Jim Sullivan, administrator of instructional services for Visalia Unified. “The areas where these students often struggle is with attendance and suspensions.”
Pinkham Elementary, Royal Oaks Elementary, and Divisadero Middle School met their established measure of progress and are no longer identified as requiring additional support or assistance. Houston Elementary, Goshen Elementary, and Willow Glen Elementary showed enough improvement to be reassigned from comprehensive to targeted assistance. Only one VUSD school from last year’s list remains among the lowest performing schools, Sequoia High School.
“Visalia Unified is appreciative of the efforts and collaboration of our teachers, administration, and the community toward improving student outcomes,” Visalia Unified Superintendent Tamara Ravalín said. “Moving forward, our focus will remain on improving teaching and learning for all students.”
Half of Tulare County schools listed among the 2018 lowest performing schools are no longer on the list. Those include Farmersville Junior High, Sequoia Union Elementary in Lemon Cove, Allensworth Elementary, Pleasant View Elementary in Poplar-Cotton Center, Countryside Community Day School in Tulare, Accelerated Charter High School in Tulare and Citrus High School in Porterville.
Schools are placed on the lowest performing list for one of two reasons: low graduation rates and poor student performance across all areas. High schools with a two-year average graduation rate of 67% or lower were identified as low performing while elementary and middle schools were defined by low state scores in five or more areas on the California School Dashboard, the California Department of Education’s school rating system.
Two new VUSD schools, Crestwood and Highland Elementary, were added to the 2019 lowest performing list. Other schools added to the 2019 lowest performing schools list were Cherry Avenue Middle School in Tulare, Monson-Sultana Elementary, Ducor Union Elementary and Buena Vista Elementary. The list also included a host of continuation high schools, court-appointed community day schools, and special education sites: Kaweah High School in Exeter, Esperanza High School in Cutler-Orosi, Sierra Vista High School in Dinuba, Vine Street Community Day School in Porterville, Tulare County Office of Education’s Special Education and Community Day School. High schools with low graduation rates on the list included California Connections Academy, an online high school based in Alpaugh, Butterfiled Charter in Porterville, Exeter Independent Study, Deep Creek Academy in Farmersville and Sequoia High School in Visalia.
Five VUSD schools were also added to the list for targeted support including Cottonwood Creek Elementary, Four Creeks Elementary, Ivanhoe Elementary, Mountain View Elementary and El Diamante High School. VUSD campuses comprised nine of the 15 schools on this year’s TSI list. Others included Tulare Western High School, Alta Vista Elementary in East Porterville, Washington Intermediate School in Dinuba, Lincoln Elementary in Exeter, Roche Elementary in Porterville and Maple Elementary in Tulare.
Districts with schools that meet the criteria for CSI or TSI partner with stakeholders to locally develop and implement a plan to improve student outcomes with their School Site Councils.
Information on the selection, eligibility criteria, program requirements, and support for CSI and TSI are available on the CDE School Support web page at www.cde.ca.gov/sp/sw/t1/schoolsupport.asp, and information on the California School Dashboard is available at www.caschooldashboard.org.