Tahoe Truckee on list of underperforming schools | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee on list of underperforming schools

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has been named one of 96 California school districts in program improvement that could face state sanctions.

The local district is in its third year of program improvement and is the only Placer County school district to be labeled as one “that [has] persistently failed to meet the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act,” according to the governor’s office.

The term “program improvement” is given to districts whose students have not met adequate yearly progress two years in a row, according to the California Department of Education Web site. The progress is measured by standardized state testing mandated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.

Tahoe Truckee has three schools in varying degrees of program improvement. Truckee Elementary is in its second year, North Tahoe Middle School is in its fifth year and Kings Beach Elementary is in its third year, according to California Department of Education documents. Students at the Kings Beach school actually made adequate yearly progress in 2006-07 school year, but because of the way the federal law is written, the school must meet the test scores two years in a row to lift the “program improvement” title.

The California State Board of Education will meet next week to decide whether to implement recommendations handed down by State Superintendent Jack O’Connell and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Feb. 27 at a joint press conference.

The recommendations come in four categories of varying state control: intensive, moderate, light and other.

Tahoe Truckee has been placed in the light category, according to press releases from both the Governor’s Press Office and Interim Superintendent for Tahoe Truckee Jo Lynn Wilson.

According to the governor’s office, Tahoe Truckee will need to “choose a state-approved technical assistance provider. This provider will help develop a tailored plan to assist the school district in meeting federal accountability targets.”

While not nearly as serious as “intensive,” in “the most serious cases ” abolishing and restructuring the district,” Tahoe Truckee Unified will have to bring in a state approved consultant or team of consultants to help the district meet their testing targets, according to Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, Placer County Superintendent of Schools.

“Being under a sanction by the state, that is where outside organizations will have more say over what you do and some of the instructional flexibility will be taken away,” Garbolino-Mojica said.

What the cost would be to Tahoe Truckee is unclear at this time, but Garbolino-Mojica indicated it would come out of the district’s funding.

There may be some financial support though, according to a press release from the O’Connell’s office last week, “O’Connell and the Governor will work with the Legislature to release some $45 million in federal funding to implement the corrective actions,” the statement read.

The federal act requires states to take action or risk losing federal funding, said representatives from the governor’s office.

Wilson said in the release issued Monday morning that, “we have been proactive in assessing, monitoring, and increasing the achievement of our students. Tahoe Truckee Unified School District did not wait for the state in order to take action and focus on improving student achievement. A plan to raise our student achievement was developed several years ago and has been updated annually.”

Wilson went on to say the district “will be working with county and regional offices to choose a state-approved technical assistance provider that will help in reviewing our plan,” providing the state board approves the recommendations next week.