Fresno Unified School District test scores are on the rise

FRESNO, Calif.

For the sixth year in a row, students scored higher in statewide standardized tests for both math and English.

In the 2010-2011 school year, 39.6% of students performed at or above grade level in English, compared to 38.5% the year before. And in math, 40.8% scored at or above grade level, compared to 40.3%. Numbers went up in other areas too, including the district's graduation rate.

"We're working differently to create more opportunities for kids."

Fresno Unified superintendent Michael Hanson spoke candidly about the progress students made during the 2010-2011 school year.

The number of graduates exceeded 4,400 compared to just under 4,000 the year before. Another milestone, students taking advanced placement exams rose to more than 5,167, compared to less than 4,000. But, the number of students proficient in both math and English is 27.5%. The district's goal is 60%.

Hanson said, "Heck of a lot of work to do."

Moving forward, Hanson wants teachers to share what works and what doesn't work with fellow teachers.

Lourdes Gonzalez is leading by example. She teaches sixth graders at Webster Elementary School in Central Fresno.

Last spring, Webster was considered an underperforming school, and had to follow the district's turnaround model. Extending the daily curriculum by thirty minutes, providing summer school classes two weeks before the first day of school, and having teachers meet with each other daily all led to Webster's success.

Kelli Wilkins, Webster Elem. Principal said, "So it was a constant focus on what are the needs of students and what are our next steps."

The result, students scored more than 12% higher on both math and English standardized tests.

Gonzalez said, "They want to make their parents proud, but most of all i think they're proud of themselves for their accomplishments."

But, not all schools saw improvement. Hanson admits, budget cuts have slowed the district's progress. He says expectations will continue to rise, until their goal is reached.

Hanson said, "Everyone is going to be uneasy with what we're expecting."

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