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Dr. Fischer Speaks on New Education Initiatives

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By Cheryl Brown

Dr. Herb Fischer, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, welcomed students, parents and the media back to school this week. At his annual "Back to School" breakfast he reported on the current progress of educational efforts throughout the county.

According to Fischer, there is expected growth in the student population: 403,948 students up from 394,096 in 33 school districts. He also cited growth in SAT 9 scores. "While not at the state average, we are showing growth," said Fischer. The second graders scored at close to 60% of the state¹s average. All others in the third and fourth grade were at or above the 50th percentile, he explained. Our schools reached this milestone through core beliefs that, "all children can learn and we can teach all children," said Fischer. He said that he sees an upward trend and this was with an 130% increase in non-English-speaking students. Troubling to him is the great disparity in children of color and those living in poverty. "There is still a lot to be done in this area," he said, "and we are working on methods to help." Most notable is the Braswell, Texas model that was implemented in the county and that caused a jump in scores in the Fontana School District. In turning the microphone over to Dr. Francisca S. Sanchez, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Fischer said she would work to make the program successful. She explained that the new legislation signed by President Bush and co-authored by Senator Ted Kennedy "Leave No Child Behind" has a provision for parental involvement that is crucial to the success of the program. "Parents must be involved and the outcomes are tied to classroom performance," stated Sanchez. "If a low performing school doesn¹t improve in a given time period, parents are given a choice and the money goes somewhere else. Teachers, parents, and administrators must work together to insure the success of the program," said Sanchez. "There is a report card on the schools and a new level of accountability including qualifications of teachers and how many classes are taught by quality teachers. There is the same standard for each school and there will be indicators to measure progress," said Sanchez. The indicators are tied to a timeline of continuous improvement, the graduation rate, and the retention rate (elementary school). Title I is the vehicle being used. "We must improve academic achievement of disadvantaged (poor) students. The time for consequences is here," she concluded.

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