For the first time in years, students at Castro Elementary School will have full access to the library, computer lab, counseling and tutoring services and classrooms, resources that are sure to help the school's many English language learners.
But even with more resources, Principal Judy Crates expects test scores to drop at Castro now that PACT, the district's parent participation program, has moved to its own site, taking many high-scoring students with it.
With PACT's departure, Castro said good bye to about 200 students, including many who scored "proficient" and "advanced" on standardized tests.
According to district records, in 2008, 57 percent of Castro's students were Latino and 56 percent were English language learners, both groups that typically score below their white and Asian counterparts on standardized tests.
Now that PACT -- short for Parent Child Teacher -- is moving to its own campus, those percentages will increase, Crates said. Although some students in PACT also are English language learners and Latino, most are white.
"Our percentage of English language learners will increase because the majority of PACT students were native speakers," Crates said. "We are going back to where we were before."
Castro had been hosting PACT for three years, along with the district's dual immersion program, and this year the school's population of nearly 700 was too much. Trustees voted in January to move PACT to its own site on San Pierre Way.
Castro will find out its 2008-09 test scores later this year, and if students did not meet requirements for a second year in a row it could become a "program improvement school." The federal No Child Left Behind legislation gives the state more control over schools which do not meet certain standards on test scores.
"We are not the only school in the district that faces that quandary," Crates said of the testing, adding that "It is a very high target for English language learners."
Crates said Castro's priority is to help these students, some of which start school speaking no English at all, develop their language skills. Now that PACT is gone, the school has nine additional classrooms, a full library and more testing areas to focus on this.
Teachers now plan to group students with similar needs to help with the learning process. Crates also wants to work on community outreach and hopes to incorporate parents in an effort to increase student development.
"We are going to have to be very focused, very efficient, and bring in more help when we need it," she said.