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Some local schools among state’s bottom 1,000

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Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:15 am, Wed Nov 16, 2011.

If your student is at an under-performing school in Lodi, you might have the option to transfer to another campus.

Five of Lodi Unified School District's elementary schools are on the list of the 1,000 lowest-performing schools in the state of California, released on Nov. 1 by the California Department of Education.

Parents of students at Oakwood, Heritage, Sutherland, Lawrence and Victor elementary schools have the option to move their kids to schools with higher Academic Performance Index scores.

Vernon E. Greer Elementary School, in Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, also made the list.

The schools don't suffer any penalties for their ranking. Parents were notified of the option recently through letters sent home.

Gathering schools for the list started in 2010 as a result of the Open Enrollment Act, passed in January 2010. The idea is to allow students at underperforming schools the chance to go somewhere else.

Schools on the list aren't reaching the state-mandated goal of an 800 API score out of 1,000. In creating the list, state officials kept to to a certain ratio of elementary, middle and high schools. No more than 10 percent of a given district's schools make it on the list. Exceptions include charter schools, community day schools and any school with fewer than 100 valid API scores.

Independence School has also been on the list from the start, but Steve Takemoto, coordinator of child welfare and attendance for the district, said that was to be expected. The school serves students who are working to make up credits and get back on track.

Catherine Pennington, assistant superintendent of elementary education, said Lodi parents can choose between transferring to Mosher or Woodbridge elementary schools, two sites selected as choice schools in the district. Parents can also opt to send their child to a higher-performing school outside of Lodi Unified.

However, very few families choose to make the switch.

Takemoto said only three students took advantage of the open enrollment option last year.

"It's actually kind of a plus to be on the list," he said. In lower-performing schools, classrooms often get extra support from the state and from grants. Heritage, Lawrence, Oakwood and Sutherland are also Title 1 schools and qualify for extra funding.

Harold Brown, principal at Sutherland, doesn't expect any of his students to transfer for next year as a result of the list.

"Parents really like the direction we're going in now, working on getting out of Program Improvement status and closing the achievement gap," said Brown, whose school has been on the list since it was first created.

Three of these schools have improved their API scores for three years running.

This year, Sutherland earned a score of 703, up from 682 last year and 654 in 2009.

Lawrence reached 687, up from 669 last year and 648 in 2009.

Oakwood also improved, moving up to 690 after last year's score of 683 and 661 in 2009.

If parents do make the switch, the school district isn't required to provide busing. To transfer in time for the 2012- 2013 school year, applications are due to the district of choice by Jan. 1, 2012.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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