Report Card

News and discussion on K-12 schools in the greater Sacramento region

January 8, 2013
New investigation puts cheating scandal to rest, Rhee says

Rhee2.JPGEducation reformer Michelle Rhee said today that a federal investigation should put to rest allegations that educators cheated to improve test scores during her tenure as Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General announced Monday that its investigation found no widespread cheating on state standardized tests during 2008-2010.

In a statement, Rhee said the conclusion supports previous investigations into the allegations, which will be the focus of a "Frontline" episode on PBS that is scheduled to air tonight at 10 p.m.

Rhee, the wife of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, runs the national education lobbying group StudentsFirst, which is based in Sacramento and promotes education reform measures.

"The results confirm what we've long believed, that the vast majority of educators would never compromise their personal or professional integrity to cheat on a test, thereby cheating children," Rhee said in the statement.

The hour-long Frontline program, which The Bee reviewed in advance, primarily recounts Rhee's time as the chancellor of public schools in Washington, D.C., two years ago. After detailing her successes and challenges, the program ends by questioning whether tremendous test score gains could be attributed to widespread cheating.

USA Today first reported in 2011 that, during Rhee's tenure, there were a high rate of erasures at Washington schools with high test score gains.

The Frontline segment questioned whether enough was done to investigate the erasure irregularities.

Rhee's statement said the probe by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General supported previous inquiries and findings by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General and two private investigations.

"At StudentsFirst we believe it is incredibly important to take all allegations of wrongdoing seriously and we thank both offices for doing so," Rhee said in her statement.

January 7, 2013
Cheating scandal resurfaces in Rhee film airing Tuesday

Rhee.JPGEducation reformer Michelle Rhee is in the news today and will continue to be as a Frontline television documentary is scheduled to air Tuesday.

The hour-long program, which The Bee reviewed, mostly recounts Rhee's time as the chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public school system two years ago. After detailing her successes and challenges, Frontline ends by questioning whether tremendous test score gains could be attributed to widespread cheating.

USA Today first reported in 2011 that, during Rhee's tenure, there were a high rate of erasures at D.C. schools with high test score gains.

Tuesday's Frontline raises the question of whether enough was done to investigate the erasure irregularities.

The documentary is scheduled to run Tuesday at 10 p.m. on KVIE channel 6.

(Photo courtesy of Frontline.)

October 15, 2012
No blue ribbon for local schools

For the second consecutive year, there were no schools in the four county region named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Statewide, 23 public schools and one private school received the honor from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for the 2011-2012 school year.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools where students achieve at high levels or have made significant progress to close the achievement gap.

The last school named a National Blue Ribbon School in Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado or Placer counties was in 2010 when Aspire's Capitol Heights Academy and Camellia Basic Elementary School, both in Sacramento City Unified, received the award.

October 11, 2012
Folsom Cordova school leads local API gains with 90 point jump

Theodore Judah Elementary in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District increased its Academic Performance Index score by 90 points, marking the largest gain in the four county area among schools with at least 150 students.

State data released today shows 45 of 54 districts in the four-county area saw their scores improve, with a median improvement of eight points, or about 1 percent.

Among local leaders in API gains, Theodore Judah Elementary was followed by Folsom Cordova's Mather Heights Elementary (77) and Cottage Elementary in San Juan Unified (69).

Among schools with at least 150 students, John D. Sloat Elementary in Sacramento City Unified saw the largest decline (79 points), followed by San Juan's Greer Elementary (60) and Fairbanks Elementary in Twin Rivers (51).

Statewide, 53 percent of schools scored at or above the state target of 800, an increase of 4 percentage points over last year. Twenty percent of schools met or surpassed the API target 10 years ago.

"We've set a high bar for schools and they have more than met the challenge, despite the enormous obstacles that years of budget cuts have put in their way," State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a written statement. "The incredible efforts of teachers, administrators, school employees, parents, and students should serve as an inspiration to us all. While there's still more work to do, California's schools have earned a vote of confidence."

Related story: More than 50% of California schools hit academic score.

For more, read The Sacramento Bee on Friday.

September 26, 2012
How did your school do on SAT and AP exams?

Some great new data was posted this morning on The Bee's website by reporter Phillip Reese showing how public high school students in California scored on the SAT and Advanced Placement exams in 2011.

Standouts include Mira Loma High School, where the average SAT score is 1852 and 92 percent of kids taking AP exams earned college credit, and Davis Senior High School, where the average SAT score is 1815 and 85 percent of students taking AP exams earned college credit.

However, it's interesting to note the number of students taking the exams.

At Mira Loma, 48 percent of seniors took the SATs, while 78 percent of seniors at Davis Senior took it. As for AP exams, 15 percent of Mira Loma seniors and juniors took the tests, compared to 56 percent at Davis Senior.

One of the highest SAT participation rates in the state goes to Sacramento Charter High, where 83 percent of seniors took the test. However, the school posted one of the lowest average score in the region of 1221 out of 2400.

Click HERE to visit the database and look up schools.

August 31, 2012
Sacramento-area students post gains on STAR tests

By Diana Lambert
and Phillip Reese

Test scores in the Sacramento region continued to climb again this year despite state budget cuts that resulted in larger class sizes, fewer teachers and reduced programs at most schools.

In the Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR test, schools in the Sacramento region showed marked improvement on benchmark English tests and slight improvement on benchmark math tests, according to a Bee review of state data released this morning.

About 60.2 percent of students in the four-county region scored at or above proficient on English tests, up from 57.8 percent in 2011. Statewide 57 percent of students scored at or above proficient.

About Report Card

Loretta KalbLoretta Kalb started her reporting career at The Sacramento Union, moved to KOVR-13 as a television reporter, editor and producer, headed to The Associated Press in San Francisco and eventually returned to Sacramento and joined The Sacramento Bee. Throughout her career, she has covered the state Legislature, courts, local government and, now, education. She is a Chico native and an Elk Grove resident.

Diana LambertDiana Lambert began her journalism career as a proofreader at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She is now a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee covering K-12 education and California State University, Sacramento. Previously she was The Bee’s Elk Grove bureau chief. Lambert was raised in a military family and lived at bases around the globe. She attended four high schools, graduating from Tokay High in Lodi and then Sacramento State University. She lives in Elk Grove.

(916) 321-1073
Twitter: @LorettaSacBee
(916) 321-1090
Twitter: @dianalambert

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