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Los Angeles Unified Case Study

The Bright Education State Standard Practice System was created by master teachers and test writers to address the need for high quality and affordable test practice. The Bright System and its vast database of practice questions is based on years of instructional practices and research-based methods on what students need to know to raise their scores on state-mandated tests. In 2000 the program was updated to address key tenants of the No Child Left Behind Act, (NCLB): accurate student assessment; annual testing; transparent reporting to parents, schools and the state; and adequate yearly progress.

The Need
     In the fall of 2000, Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the nation’s largest and most diverse school systems, needed to improve the test scores of thousands of students throughout the district. Although the students were from both urban and suburban schools, most students were from low income households where English was spoken as a second language. Many of the students attended what were considered at the time “failing” schools. L.A. Unified needed a program that would provide focused test practice at an affordable cost. After reviewing countless programs from a wide range of publishers, L.A. Unified chose the Bright System materials for a large-scale pilot study.

The Results
     The Los Angeles Unified School District utilized the printed version of the Bright Practice Test System. First the students were given a basic skill diagnostic. Once the students’ strengths and weaknesses were defined, they began a series of customized practice lessons on the subjects in which they needed the most help. In accordance with the California Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) and the federal NCLB,
students were tested twice during the year, once at the beginning and once at the end. The resulting Academic Performance Index (API) scores were then compared to the scores of the previous year. As the chart below illustrates, the improvement was dramatic and district-wide.

The API is an amalgamation of test results in the academic areas of science, language arts, and mathematics. Its score range is between 200 and 1000. The annual growth target for a school is five percent of the distance between its API Base and the statewide performance target of 800. Schools that have an API below 800 are expected to hit an annual growth target of at least one point. Any school with an API of 800 or more must maintain an API of at least 800 in order to meet its growth target.

As you see in the chart above, all but two of the 42 participating schools increased their API. Of those 40 improved API numbers, 36 increased their score by at least 20 points, a full 2 deciles above the required standard. Further, all but three of the schools saw API growth that qualified them for the 2001 Governor’s Performance Award (GPA) Program.

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