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School’s Test Scores Drop After ‘Stand and Deliver’ Teacher’s Departure

October 23, 1992

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Calculus test scores at the school made famous by the movie ″Stand and Deliver″ have dropped since the departure of teacher Jaime Escalante.

Forty-four percent of Garfield students passed calculus Advanced Placement exams this year, down from 58 percent last year.

″That’s a very substantial drop,″ said Jim Deneen of the Educational Testing Service, which administers the tests, given each spring to high school students. He said the numbers were ″still respectable.″

Between 1986 and 1991, the last year Escalante taught the class, an average of 61 percent passed it.

″I still get at least one phone call a day from Garfield students or parents because they say nobody is looking out for them,″ said Escalante, who taught at Garfield for 17 years before joining the faculty of Sacramento’s ethnically mixed Hiram Johnson High School.

Escalante began to build a math program at the high school in east Los Angeles in 1978.

By 1982, 18 of his calculus students took the Advanced Placement exam, earning high scores. The New Jersey-based ETS suspected 14 of those students of cheating and made them retake it. Every student who retook the test passed.

Escalante and the successful retesting were the subject of the 1987 movie ″Stand and Deliver,″ starring Edward James Olmos.

Escalante was able to entertain and enthrall students, other educators said. He often mixed Spanish and English and used props such as hats and baseballs.

Administrators at Garfield said the math program is not declining.

″Our program is better than ever, and the word on the street is that it’s going down the tubes,″ said Principal Maria Elena Tostado.

Math teachers at Garfield cited several possible factors in the drop in scores, including the riots and the loss of two of Escalante’s colleagues.

″You can’t lose three masters and expect to replace them, especially not in one year,″ said Valentin Aguilera, who teaches math at Garfield. ″It’s a very big legacy to live up to.″

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