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USD study details performance issues in San Diego schools

Two-thirds of a sample of San Diego Unified School District students failed proficiency tests in math and reading, according to a study touted Tuesday by a coalition seeking to reform city schools.

The study, done by the Center for Education Policy and Law at the University of San Diego, also found that the achievement gap between white and Hispanic students continues to grow. Low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities also lag behind.

At a news conference at USD, Mayor Jerry Sanders called the study a “cause for concern.”

“Whether it’s attracting and retaining businesses that provide good paying jobs, stabilizing the city’s finances, or improving our quality of life, they all depend on having a public school system that prepares our young people to be productive, responsible citizens,” he said.

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Sanders was joined by a coalition of civic and business leaders, calling itself San Diegans 4 Great Schools.

Members of the group have been meeting to come up with ways to overhaul the San Diego district.

One of the ideas is to expand the Board of Education by adding four appointed members to the five elected members.

Sanders said the governance of the SDUSD has not changed since 1931.

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“I support these efforts to examine the governance structure of our schools — to look for ways to increase accountability, to promote stability of leadership and to work with decision-makers on what’s best for our children,’' he said.

There were some positive aspects of the the study.

It found the dropout rate for the district has decreased in recent years and is now below the state average and it highlighted improved test scores in some categories

The study, funded by businessman Rod Dammeyer, looked at student enrollment, demographics and performance in San Diego for the 2002-03 and 2008-09 academic years.