By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
School District Focusing On Standards, Attendance
Placeholder Image
Students throughout the Escalon Unified School District are gearing up for testing next week and District Superintendent Ron Costa said not only can students prepare for the tests, a record of good attendance can also help them help their school.

Testing is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 11 for most of the students in the district.

"Spring means CST (California Standards Test) time for all schools in California. All second through 11th grade students are required to take a battery of tests based on state standards in English, math, science and social science," Costa noted. "The test scores from students at each school are used to determine the state API (Academic Performance Index) and the federal AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) scores for schools and districts each August."

Both the state and federal government use these scores to rank schools in comparison with each other as well as to determine whether schools and districts may be classified as Program Improvement (PI). Schools or districts identified as Program Improvement must implement additional federal requirements. A school or district is eligible to exit Program Improvement if it makes AYP goals for two consecutive years. Information about API, AYP and PI is located on the CDE AYP Web page at

"The staff of Escalon Unified School District has worked very hard to ensure that all students are receiving appropriate instruction using state approved curriculum," Costa said. "Because of this, Escalon Unified School District has seen its district API score improve from 704 in 2004 to 767 in 2010 - an increase of almost nine percent."

In addition, the district has seen student proficiency rates in English rise from 34.7 percent in 2002 to 51.9 percent in 2010 and student proficiency rates in Math rise from 28.2 percent in 2002 to 55.4 percent in 2010.

With the 2011 CSTs slated to begin next week, Costa said Escalon teachers are continuing to prepare their students.

"Not only continuing to provide excellent instruction and assessment of the state standards, they are also teaching students the essential skills and strategies necessary to successfully take the multiple choice CSTs," Costa said.

Assemblies hosted at the schools over the past few weeks have also highlighted the need for students to be prepared and at the elementary level, administrators challenged students to strive to go "To Proficiency ... And Beyond" based on the theme of the popular Toy Story movies.

"Parents can assist their children by discussing, with them, the importance of the CSTs and why it is important to always try your best," added Costa. "Parents should also insure that their children have plenty of rest and eat a healthy breakfast prior to test taking."

Focus On Attendance

Costa also said since the testing is imminent, it's a good time to remind students and parents of the importance of children being in class each day.

"Everyone is aware of the fiscal crisis that our state and country is currently enduring, but everyone might not know how Escalon Unified School District is affected and what role student attendance plays in school funding," he pointed out. "School districts throughout the state are funded through a formula that is based on student attendance. The vast majority of district revenue comes from the State or Federal government based on the number of students who attend school each day.

"Every day that a student in Escalon Unified School District attends school, the district is due to receive approximately $28 in state revenue. These revenues are over 20 percent less than they were just two years ago. This decrease in funding has resulted in many cuts to our schools - class sizes are larger, supplies are fewer, positions are remaining vacant and all employees have taken furlough days and reduced pay."

The more students who attend school each day, Costa said, the more funding the district is due to receive. Attendance, therefore, is a focus for the school district.

"State law does not allow for excused absence. Either a child is in school or not - it is as simple as that," said Costa. "However, a school does get full credit for any portion of a school day a student attends."

Costa said parents can help by:

• Being sure their children attend school every day they are able - if the child is ill, keep them home until they are well (a good rule of thumb is 24 hours without a fever)

• Trying to schedule doctor or dentist appointments after school hours. If this is not possible, be sure the child attends school before and after the appointment.

If the district can increase student attendance by 1 percent every day (about 30 students district wide), district revenues will increase by approximately $150,000.

"The benefits are multiple," Costa noted, "improved learning for students and improved revenues for our schools. Improved revenues translate into fewer cuts to the educational program."

In addition, studies have been completed showing that student learning is affected by the amount of time they are in class. It has been shown that missing as few as 10 days per year can cause a child to significantly fall behind in their education. And once a student falls behind, they must learn at an accelerated rate in order to catch up with their fellow classmates.

"Not only can an increase in attendance help to offset the losses of revenue to the district, decreased absences can help insure that Escalon students stay on track to reach their full potential," Costa said.