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ETS Pulliam’s Focus on Standards Drives Student Scores Past Expectations

Paramount High School showed significant improvement in almost every area


Paramount High School

In the fall of 2001, Paramount High School was identified as a “1-1” school. In California, that meant that the school was in the bottom ten percent of schools in the state. Even worse, it meant that within its comparison band of schools with similar demographics—inner city, low socio-economic, high-diverse community—Paramount High School was in the bottom ten percent. And this was the school’sthird year of Program Improvement.

High school results were
down in almost every
course statewide, but
not at Paramount.

At this point, a letter went out to parents offering to pay for transportation to move their student to other high schools. But PHS was not alone. Most of the schools in Paramount Unifi ed had been identifi ed by the state as low-performing.

The new district superintendent turned to ETS Pulliam and its program improvement model, Focus on Standards. The high school began a planning process to secure state funds, and took the first step of Focus on Standards: aligning course curricula to the Essential Standards.

Results came quickly. By Spring 2002, scores showed signifi cant improvement in almost every area. Paramount increased its Academic Performance Index by 7 percent and went from an API of 477 to 522 (on a scale of 200-1000). But there was still work to be done: only 20 percent of tenth-graders passed the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) in 2002.

In the 2002-2003 school year, teachers created pacing documents and interim assessments (steps two and three of Focus on Standards) and began a series of whole-school interventions recommended from their data analysis. Literacy and Math Enhancement courses were created, and funding was used to provide classroom coaching and support. Teachers implemented a fully aligned and paced curriculum.

By spring of 2003, results showed huge increases in achievement. The school improved overall by 18 percent, and the API went from 522 to 568. The AYP entered the accountability arena that year and Paramount met all its student achievement goals. Frankly, the results were almost too good to be true. Many California schools showed big gains that year, so the staff was concerned that the growth wasn’t “real.” Fears were allayed, however, when 35% of tenth graders passed the math portion of CAHSEE.

For the school year 2003-2004, teachers used Focus on Standards’ Structured Teacher Planning Time to work together to thoroughly interpret and mindfully use data to modify instruction. Staff learned how to be relentless about implementing interventions based on data and improving instruction. Teachers visited each other’s classrooms and worked together to improve pacing and delivery of instruction.

When the 2004 state assessments were released, high school results were down in almost every course, statewide. But not the results for Paramount High School. At PHS, student achievement increased in almost every course tested, with overall achievement increasing by 10 percent. Paramount’s API went from 568 to 591. AYP targets were fully met and most notable, the pass rate of tenth-graders on the CAHSEE soared to 69 percent.

Energized by the steady improvement in student achievement, PHS staff has set a school wide goal to increase the rigor in their courses and to continue to provide support to students. As they move into a WASC planning year, there is a strong spirit committed to taking their success to the next level.

To set up an appointment, visit us online at: programimprovement.html or call 1-866-ETSLEARN (1-866-387-5327).