Oxford Elementary now a “Program Improvement” school

Oxford Elementary in the Berkeley Unified School District is now designated a Program Improvement school, based on state and federal testing data released today.

Although Oxford Elementary met its state-measured Academic Performance Index goals, it did not meet the federal ones, called Academic Yearly Progress standards — guidelines instated as part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which requires that all subgroups within a school meet a certain standard in English-Language Arts and Mathematics.

If any of the subgroups in the school — which include race and economic divisions —  fails to meet these federal standards for two consecutive years, it becomes a “Program Improvement” school, a designation that then makes the school subject to several changes.

In its first year, the school must redirect 10 percent of its Title 1 funds towards staff professional development, and in the fourth year, the school is faced with choosing between much more serious options, like undergoing a major restructuring or replacing all or most staff — including its principal.

Parents can request to change schools when a school becomes Program Improvement, according to the district’s website.

To rid itself of the designation, the school must meet the Academic Yearly Progress Standards for two consecutive years.

A school is only subject to the Program Improvement label if it receives federal Title I funds, which are given to schools with about 40 percent of students classified as low-income. Berkeley High School is the only school in the district that does not receive these funds, so it cannot ever receive the status despite not meeting federal standards.

Currently, 11 of the district’s 15 public schools eligible for Title I funding are considered Program Improvement. Last year, Cragmont Elementary and Emerson Elementary entered Program Improvement, and this year, neither met the federal standards that would take them one step closer to losing the designation.

Overall, the Berkeley Unified School District met its Academic Performance Index standards — measured out of 1,000 points, with a proficiency level at 800 points this year — improving by six points to 790.

Soumya Karlamangla is the assistant city news editor.