Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson was all smiles as he walked into the Roeding Elementary School library Wednesday. "Even while we continue to face in this dismal and very, very difficult and trying economic time, with a rapidly shrinking budget in Fresno Unified and across the state for all of us, Fresno Unified posted our fifth consecutive year of academic improvement," said Hanson.
District wide, 27 percent of students from second to 11th grade were proficient in both English and math last year, compared to 19 percent in 2007. That's still a long way away from the district goal of 60 percent, but just five years ago, Hanson said the district was all but written off. "We're here to celebrate and start talking more forcefully about it is being saved, it is worthy, it is worth community support and investment continually," said Hanson.
The biggest gains were in the fifth grade. 54 percent of students tested were at least proficient in math last year, compared to 33 percent in 2007. Hanson credited district staff and board policies for the gains and announced the testing results at Roeding Elementary, a school that made some of the biggest strides. Back in April, staff put on a rally to get students excited about test taking. Now, based on the results, parent Virginia Havens says the community will know what she's known for nine years. "I know a lot of times parents think they need to pull their students from Fresno Unified to get that education, but that's not true. It's definitely not the case at Roeding," said Havens.
The district also set a record this year in testing for the California Exit Exam. 73 percent of test takers passed it on their first attempt, the highest percentage ever.