(CAL MATTERS) – Long Beach educators noticed something when they analyzed test scores last year from a handful of middle schools.
All of them serve students who are predominantly low-income and Latino. And all of them posted fairly low scores—only between 20 and 30 percent of students were meeting state standards in math. But while the others didn't show much improvement over prior years, one school demonstrated tremendous growth.
Educators used that information to form a plan: Math teachers from the other schools visited Washington Middle School, the one that had dramatically improved. And the district sent math curriculum experts to the other schools to coach teacher teams on their lesson plans and classroom instruction. Though the latest test scores are not yet public, district officials say they show the plan worked: Students at the other middle schools are now improving too.
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"It shows you the impact that that coaching support is having," said Chris Lund, assistant superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District.
The plan was possible because Long Beach uses a special measurement to analyze student test scores—something used by only eight California districts. Called a "growth model," it's become the subject of a raging debate over how California reports schools' test scores to parents and the public.
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