A day after Los Angeles Unified released dismal test score results, the Board of Education issued its verdict on Superintendent Ruben Zacarias during his first year on the job: an “A” all the way. After evaluating Zacarias in five areas, the board in closed session concluded that the superintendent’s emphasis on instruction had moved the Los Angeles Unified School District on a path of increased student performance. “The fundamental culture of this district has changed to a focus on achievement,” the board concluded in a written statement. “We are confident that together we can effect even greater change than this first year.” The board’s strongest recommendation for improvement urged the superintendent to define a clear vision for the district, and a plan to implement that vision. “This vision must pull together training, resources and appropriate intervention if we are to reach the superintendent’s goal of an increase of 8 percentile points (on test scores) by the year 2000,” the board statement said. Zacarias said he was pleased by the positive evaluation and gave credit to his management team, principals, teachers and parents who “rallied to the call of student achievement.” But the superintendent acknowledged that with test results that show students ranking in the bottom third of the country in reading, math and language, the LAUSD “had a long ways to go.” “I don’t want to make excuses or give explanations, we have to focus on what to do about the scores,” Zacarias said. “I will focus on two things: early literacy and language acquisition. If we do those two things, we’ve succeeded.” Zacarias said those priorities defined his vision for the district. He conceded that in his first year, he did have some problems with furthering his education plan. “The board gave me 21 goals and I think as of two weeks ago I had met 19 of those goals – it was a full plate,” Zacarias said. “The board has acknowledged that they need to cut that down so I can focus on instruction.” As noted in the board’s evaluation statement, Zacarias has led the fast completion of more than 1,400 projects under the $2.4 billion Proposition BB schools repair and improvements. And he oversaw the lowering of class sizes in kindergarten and third grade. When he became superintendent, Zacarias had hoped to avoid those types of responsibilities by hiring an outside financial expert to act as “business czar” and oversee those divisions. But the district lost its business czar in January, after he had spent only two months on the job. Since then, Zacarias’ attention has at times been taken away from instruction and focused on business matters. In addition, the key instruction post was allowed to remain vacant for months. The board’s evaluation stressed the need for Zacarias to “implement a better method for the timely filling of critical vacant positions.” Zacarias said he would choose a replacement for Hugh Jones by the end of the week. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!