Media Academy celebrates test score gains

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Media Academy students were relieved to find out that their school improved its test scores and probably won’t be shut down.

Students found out the news when they returned to classes and saw three large signs that announced the results at the front entrance of the school.

The California Department of Education sent out the California Standards Tests statistics on Aug. 15, but most teachers received the information the week before school started.

Some of the biggest gains for Media Academy were in English and science. Media students improved in science by 35 percent. They also made the biggest gains in Oakland in students who are “advanced” or “proficient” in English.

Senior Makender Jean-Philippe was the most improved student at Media. He raised his overall scores 101.5 points on the 2009 tests, which were given in early May.

“I ate breakfast,” he said to explain why his CST scores went up. But he also said he tried his best on the three-day tests and took time to look over his answers.

In 2009, Media Academy had 20 percent of its students score “Proficient” or “Advanced” in English. The year before they only had 10 percent.

The school also reduced the percentage of students who were in “Far Below Basic” and “Below Basic” categories. In 2009, 40 percent of the students got these scores. The year before it was 62 percent.

But on the other hand, Media students did not made a big change on the mathematics standards test. About 90 percent of students continued to score “Below Basic” or “Far Below Basic” in math. Math scores all over Oakland were far lower than English scores.

The Oakland Unified School District decided last December to shut down Robeson School of the Visual and Performing Arts, which shares the Fremont Federation of High Schools campus with Media and two other schools, because of low test scores.

Students were told last spring that if they didn’t take the CST seriously, their school might also close. Juniors registering for their senior year were asked to choose which high school they would transfer to — McClymonds or Castlemont — if the school had to be shut down.

Also out of the four schools in Fremont federation Media Academy got the best scores in the English test.

Teachers in Media are celebrating they success with their students by posting pictures and certificates of the students who improved the most on the CST.

Teacher Lisa Shafer awarded students by bringing donuts to her advisory class to celebrate their big improvement on the CST.

While the test score improvement may help keep the school board from shutting the school down next year, staff members aren’t resting.

“I’m keeping my head down,” said Principal Benjamin Schmookler. “We have to keep improving.”