More local students ready for college, district says
by Kendall Wright | Patterson Irrigator
Oct 21, 2009 | 755 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patterson High School students are competitive across the county in terms of college readiness, according to new Advancement Via Individual Determination and Advanced Placement program data presented at the Monday, Oct. 19, meeting of the Patterson Joint Unified School District board.

According to a report by Kathy Pon, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, more than 100 students earned a passing score of a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exams for the 2007-08 school year, while the AVID program — a college preparatory program for economically disadvantaged or underachieving students — saw about 90 percent of its graduates go to a four-year college.

Patterson students’ AP pass rate of 73 percent was above Ceres’ 61 and the state’s 71 but short of Turlock’s 77. Based on their scores, students earn college credits toward the subject of the exam they passed.

Selected alongside Newman and Waterford, the district will participate in a county-sponsored federal grant for the next three years to help subsidize AP exam fees, which are about $85 a test.

“Patterson’s college potential is excellent,” Pon said. “We are so proud of the students and teachers who put in so much hard work, and it’s evident in these scores. I’m expecting we will show well in the county again this year.”

But despite positive turnouts in one area, Pon’s report also pointed out a slight in the number of students taking the SAT and ACT— two tests often used as primary components of college admission and scholarships — and their scores on those tests.

Average SAT verbal scores dropped in the 2008-09 school year from 443 to 441, math scores from 453 to 443 and writing scores from 449 to 434, resulting in a 27-point total average decrease from the prior year’s scores.

The district has speculated that economics may have played a role in that decline, as fewer number students are choosing to take the tests more than once or are choosing to only take one college entrance exam, Pon said.

“It has definitely appeared that students are becoming more selective about which tests they are taking,” she said. “With the economy, this may affect where our students can afford to attend in the future.”

The district has also implemented new monitoring strategies to keep up with the state’s high academic standards, including the Early Assessment Program and six-week benchmark testing throughout the year in core classes, Pon said.

A new indicator for college readiness, the EAP tests high school students as early as the spring of their junior year to determine which of them demonstrate the potential to bypass remedial English and math courses at California State Universities.

“Not only are these rigorous tests, but they are also the first real indicator of how our students and programs are doing comparatively,” Pon said. “With these results, we can track whether our students are college-ready and also see where we need to raise the bar in our classes academically.

“We are continuing to make strong academic progress and have the monitoring systems in place to maintain that.”

Also at Monday’s school board meeting

• A presentation was given by staff concerning Apricot Valley Elementary School changing its calendar from year-round to traditional for next school year. The issue will be put to a vote in an upcoming meeting.

• A special education transition program for 18- to 22-year-old students at Rising Sun Elementary School was approved by the board, pending approval by the Effective Practices Committee, Program Advisory Committee, and the Stanislaus County Superintendents’ Council.

• The board also approved signing an agreement with Public Agency Retirement Services, or PARS, to design a supplementary retirement plan for eligible employees, provided there is sufficient employee participation.

• Contact Kendall Wright at 892-6187 or kendall@pattersonirrigator.com.
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