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Schools seek higher scores

Educators discuss how to improve their profiles and test scores. Ideas include stronger homework enforcement.

January 20, 2009|By Michael Alexander

Schools on Costa Mesa’s Westside are working aggressively to boost their scores — and their profile — and are seeing results, officials said at a Newport-Mesa School Board study session Tuesday.

Principals from the district’s high schools, middle schools and elementary schools are meeting this week with the school board to report their progress, explain their goals for the year to come and talk about how they plan to improve test scores.

Schools from the areas around Estancia High School and Newport Harbor High School gave reports Tuesday, while Costa Mesa High School and Corona Del Mar High School are scheduled for today.

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Those in the Estancia District mostly said they had plenty to be proud of in the past year.

TeWinkle Middle School Principal Kirk Bauermeister said he walked onto an improving campus last August and set out two goals: to keep improving programs and to make TeWinkle a hub of the community.

“The results of that is that we went up 38 points [on the state’s Academic Performance Index] last year, up to 756,” he said. “In two years we’ve gained 82 points.”

One successful program this year is called ZAP, for “Zeroes Aren’t Permitted,” Bauermeister said. Under this idea, students who come to class without having done their homework are sent to the office, where parents are notified that students must stay after school to finish their work.

“We piled [this program] into the seventh grade for the first quarter,” he said. “Out of 350 seventh-graders, we had two fail math and three fail English. Needless to say, we’re now doing it in the eighth grade as well.”

The program is being copied at Estancia High School and California Elementary, officials said.

Estancia showed success in retaining and attracting students, principal Phil D’Agostino said.

Two years ago the school graduated only 190 students, but that number was 230 last year, and more than 300 seniors are on campus right now, D’Agostino said.

One part of that goal is aggressive outreach to the community to let kids and families know about what the campus has to offer, he said.

“We’re going to do the same thing USC does [for potential students],” he said. “We’re contacting eighth-graders every three weeks about something going on on campus.”

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