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March 9, 2010

Desert Hot Springs High School "Persistently Low Achieving"

The California Department of Education is required to prepare a list of of the 5% of the schools that are "persistently low achieving," and Desert Hot Springs High School is on the list. Here's the list of Tier I schools, which includes DHS High as well as West Shores High in Salton City. And here's the Tier II list where you can find Indio High.

According to the California Department of Education "schools identified as the lowest 5% of the state's persistently lowest-achieving schools are required to implement one of the following four school intervention models:" [I will paraphrase]

  1. Replace the principal and replace at least half of the "school's staff." I assume that by "staff" they mean faculty. The school must also adopt a new governance structure and do some other jargon-y things that I'm sure make sense to professional California educators.
  2. Convert it to a charter school.
  3. Close the school. If they do that, the other schools that the kids will go to "should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school."
  4. Replace the principal, increase instructional time and implement "a series of required school improvement strategies."

UPDATE: The Desert Sun has a more complete article here. It includes this: "Indio High was only on the list because it was 15 Academic Performance Index points short, Principal Rudy Ramirez said." A completely meaningless sentence without explanation of the scale. If the Academic Performance Index goes from 1 to 16, then 15 points short is pretty terrible. I had to go digging around on the California Department of Education site to find this 77-page document within which we learn that the scale goes from 200 to 1,000. Why not 0 to 800, you ask? Dunno.

The article and the comments added thereto launch the usual arguments: It's not the school, it's the kids, it's the parents, it's the bilingualism.

Desert Hot Springs High teachers deal with attendance and behavior issues without support and that affects how much students can learn, teacher Toni Little said.

"I don't need fixing. The system needs fixing," she said, adding that the teaching staff at Desert Hot Springs High is the best she's worked with in 30 years of education.

"I would say, unless they address those other chronic conditions, the most incredible teachers in the United States ... can't pull it off," she said.

From the point of view of the California Department of Education, however, the only thing that can be controlled are the schools. They pretty much have to accept whatever students walk through those school doors.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | March 9, 2010 at 01:22 AM

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