New data sheds light on efforts to remedy the achievement gap in Palo Alto schools.
The Board of Education tonight will discuss progress toward its goal of boosting the results of the 13 to 14 percent of elementary and middle school children considered below grade level in math and English.
Overall, Palo Alto students score among the top six K-12 school districts in California, in the company of San Marino, La Canada, Manhattan Beach, Piedmont and San Ramon.
Palo Alto's goals to boost results for lower-achieving students are part of a strategic plan adopted in 2008, with targets set for 2012.
Test results for elementary and middle school students will be spotlighted tonight. High school achievement data will be presented at the board's meeting Oct. 11.
The targets include having 95 percent of third- through eighth-graders scoring "proficient" or "advanced" in English and math, as measured by the California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test. A second goal is to have 85 percent of students show at least one year's progress in grade-level curriculum as measured by the STAR test.
While past progress has been recorded, the district falls considerably short of the "95 percent proficient or advanced" goal it set for itself in 2008. STAR results for 2011 show the district is 7.7 percentage points short of the goal in English, and 8.7 percentage points short in math.
On the "85 percent making a year's progress" goal, the district remains 3 points short in English and 5 points short in math.
At least 75 percent of the below-grade-level students have at least one of three "academic risk factors" -- low-income, still learning English or in special education, according to data prepared by school district staff members.
In a breakdown of "numerically significant subgroups," the data shows that Hispanic students in San Marino, La Canada, Manhattan Beach and San Ramon score more than 100 points higher on the Academic Performance Index than those in Palo Alto.
African-American students scored 134 points higher in Manhattan Beach and 100 points higher in San Ramon than those in Palo Alto. African-American enrollment in the other top-performing districts was too small to yield meaningful comparisons.
In other business tonight, the board will discuss a framework for collaborating with the City Council to make decisions on the future of the old Cubberley High School site, and vote on the district's broad "focused goals" for 2011-12.
The board's public session begins at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.