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French Camp closing in on magical 800 score

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POSTED September 16, 2009 2:41 a.m.
FRENCH CAMP – About two years ago, French Camp School underwent restructuring.

The rural historic campus of the Manteca Unified School District had failed to meet minimum proficiency targets established under the No Child Left Behind Act, and was in jeopardy of being taken over by the state after several years as program improvement school.

The restructuring paid off Tuesday as French Camp moved up 23 points in the State Department of Education’s Academic Performance Index, scoring 782 – the statewide performance target is “800” – while meeting all requirements.

“French Camp is moving out of program improvement,” Superintendent Jason Messer said.

Since the restructuring, the school not only experienced substantial growth in its API scores – French Camp moved up 39 points in 2008 – but met all of the Adequate Yearly Progress sub-group targets.

“Today, we’re walking around here higher than a helicopter,” Principal Joanne Balestreri said.

She referenced to the STAR celebration held earlier this month, with Capt. John Boynton and First Sgt. Ron Biggs hovering over the school before landing their OH58 U.S. Army scout helicopter on to campus.

The preliminary indication back then was that French Camp had exceeded its scores from that of the previous year in language arts and math by “double digits,” according to Balestreri.

She added that the restructuring plan took hard work by those involved. Included were students, teachers, staff, parents, and even the district office.

“The things we put into place paid big dividends,” Balestreri said.

She’s looking forward to continuing the upward trend, with French Camp possibly joining the ranks of the elite “800” API schools in the coming years.

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