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Ripon elementary schools all top 800 in STAR testing
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RIPON - Ripon teachers and parents had a lot to celebrate with the release of the STAR test scores that placed all of the public elementary schools above the state’s target of 800.

While the average score for the school district’s student population of some 3,000 reached 824, Colony Oak Elementary School posted a record 884 – up two points – from the recent spring testing.  Ripon High School students were 18 points ahead of last year with 781.

Director of Curriculum Kathy Coleman said, “We’re very pleased with the teachers, students and the administration.”  She added that the sub groups are up in their scores – not all are at target – but they have shown measurable growth.

Ripon Elementary School students had the largest single growth factor gaining 77 points over 2008, a direct result of Principal Mike Larson introducing the Explicit Direct Instruction teaching program five years ago.  Eight teachers have been certified to teach the program to other teachers at Ripon Elementary.

In addition to the proactive teaching method, a “Love and Logic” discipline program was put into use in the last two years.  And last year the school promoted the STAR test stressing, “It’s cool to do well!”

This was emphasized through a “Show What You Know” assembly that showcased students telling what they had learned in a video in front of the entire student body.  “They were very aware this year when they took the STAR test that it was very important.  I think that had an impact,” Larson said.

The Ripon Elementary principal added that the staff feels good about the results seeing that what they do is effective.  “I long felt this could be an 800 school and there are a lot of reasons for it,” he added.

The school also had the support of two bi-lingual aides to help the English language learners understand the curriculum both in the classroom for six hours each day.  The economic downturn left the school without the aides but a new program initiated by the district superintendent will put two bilingual aides back at the school for three hours a day using categorical funding.

Weston Elementary students grew in their test results by 24 points to 833 and Park View had a 15 point growth to 871.  Ripona Elementary School’s testing resulted in a score of 841, up nine points from 832.

In Manteca six of 20 elementary schools are above the 800 mark.  Lincoln Elementary experienced the greatest growth with a gain of 47 points.  Sixteen of the 20 schools added more than 20 points to their scores.  Manteca’s district average was 752 up 21 points for all its schools.