On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger released the plans for each school district that has failed to meet all of the federal goals of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act for five years in a row.
Although some on the list could face restructuring or other severe measures, the East Bay school districts received a relatively light touch from the state.
Berkeley Unified, which has a low participation rate for the mandated tests, must rewrite its educational plan. The Oakland and San Lorenzo districts each will need to hire a state-approved consultant to help raise their test scores.
Bill Huyett, Berkeley's new superintendent, said his district will try to convince students and families -- especially at the high school level -- to take the standardized exams. Although students are permitted to opt out, schools are required by the federal law to test 95 percent of their students.
"Many of our secondary students and parents don't see the relevance of the test. Therefore, they have not participated," he said.
Troy Flint, the Oakland school district's spokesman, said the district welcomed extra support. He noted, though, that the district already approaches educational policy with No Child Left Behind legislation in mind.
"It's not going to be a radical change in the way we approach student learning here," he said.
Oakland's public school system has been under state control for nearly five years. Although the state took over in mid-2003 after issuing a massive bailout loan, Oakland's state-appointed leaders have set their sights on education reform.
Other districts, such as Ravenswood City Elementary in San Mateo County, face "intensive" corrective actions, which could include replacing personnel, appointing a trustee and abolishing or restructuring the district.
At a Wednesday news conference, State Superintendent Jack O'Connell and Schwarzenegger touted the plan as a reasonable way to hold districts accountable and provide extra support to those that need it most. O'Connell and Schwarzenegger are at odds, however, over Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut more than $4 billion from the education fund to help balance the budget -- a plan O'Connell has described as a "hostile act."
"And of course this is not just about money, and not just about funding," Schwarzenegger said, according to a transcript of the conference.
"It is about that those kids in most of those challenging districts have suffered for too long, and we've got to do something about it. They need our help right now."