Fresno's /*Webster Elementary School*/ in South Central Fresno sits in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city. 98 percent of the kids who go to school here live in poverty. More than a third are learning English as a second language. Nevertheless, Webster Elementary School is outperforming many other elementary schools in Fresno Unified.
A class of first graders is already writing paragraphs with several sentences and it's only the second week of school. They learned to write sentences in kindergarten last year.
Webster Elementary School improved its proficiency scores by 100 points, moving up significantly from one of the lowest performing elementary schools in the district.
Webster Principal Kelli Wilkins says the school takes a no excuses approach. They set the bar high for students and expect them to rise to the occasion.
"We have high expectations of our kids," said Wilkins. "No different expectation of any other school in Fresno or Clovis and we expect our students to achieve as high as any other school."
/*Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson*/ says while Webster's performance is exemplary, overall achievement in the district was a mixed bag.
"We gained another six points this year," said Hanson. "We had 54 schools that increased their academic performance index, 37 of them dropped."
Hanson says the district still has a long way to go. He believes the reason Webster has improved so dramatically is the increase in time students spend with their teachers.
"The silver bullet we have at our disposal now is to create more time for kids in the day," said Hanson. "Get our kids in front of our teachers for a longer school day... school year... in some way shape or form get our kids with their teachers for a longer period of time."
The kids at Webster are already benefitting from that longer school day and school year.
Clovis Unified is also celebrating, with all of its schools scoring over the state's achievement target of 800. And in the South Valley, Visalia Unified's score improved by twelve points over last year's average.
Visit this link www.cde.ca.gov to find out how your child's school and district performed on the API tests.