Area public schools leap forward in achieving API standards

Finally, local public schools are receiving good news on
standardized testing.
The 2002-03 Academic Performance Index (API) for California
schools was released today and the numbers show local schools have
made huge strides.
Finally, local public schools are receiving good news on standardized testing.

The 2002-03 Academic Performance Index (API) for California schools was released today and the numbers show local schools have made huge strides.

The API is the centerpiece of the statewide accountability system in California public education. The API reflects a school’s performance on student assessments that are part of California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program plus results from the California High School Exit Exam.

Only two schools in the county did not make their projected target. Most schools surpassed their target by double digits.

“This is vindication for teachers and all the people in the schools who have been working really hard,” said Tim Foley, county superintendent of schools.

The state API target for all schools is 800. The API ranges from 200 to 1,000. Individual student scores from each indicator are combined into a single number to represent the performance of a school.

Based on the 2003 numbers, Cienega School’s API grew 76 points, Cerra Vista School’s grew 43, Southside School increased 29 points, Tres Pinos 50 and Willow Grove 120. All county schools are at 600 or higher, a good mark for a county with many English Language Learners and socio-economically disadvantaged students.

This is the first year the Hollister School District has schools in the 700s – Cerra Vista at 735 and Ladd Lane at 717. Calaveras and R.O. Hardin both broke into the 600s for the first time.

In the past, some county school API’s have only grown by single digits or decreased by double digits. Foley attributes this year’s good news to a better STAR test.

“The test has improved – it relies more and more on the state standards,” he said.

The high APIs are even more meaningful because every school’s subgroup has to show improvement.

“You have to have growth in all subgroups. It’s not just a few kids raising scores up,” Foley said.

Subgroups across the county grew by double digits. Major subgroups in the county include Hispanic/Latino, white and socio-economically disadvantaged.

For the Hollister School District, API’s for Hispanics grew 33 points, 21 for whites and 39 for socio-economically disadvantaged students. At San Benito High School, the API growth was 32 for Hispanics, 30 for whites and 56 for socio-economically disadvantaged.

“We’re very excited. Not only did everybody grow, but our Hispanic population grew greater than our white group, as well as did the socio-economically disadvantaged students,” said Jean Burns Slater, superintendent of the SBHS District. “We still have a ways to go, but we’re closing the (achievement) gap and we’re still growing (as a whole).”

The API report for the Aromas-San Juan Unified schools will not be released until December because the district is challenging data reported to the Department of Education.

“Ours won’t be released because there are data changes that have to be made,” Superintendent Jackie Munoz said Wednesday.

The data changes include inaccurate numbers about the district’s Native American population and English Language Learners. The state also counts the district as having a Gifted and Talented Program which it does not.

By press time, statewide numbers had not been released.

Each school’s API is factored into their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) – the federal accountability system that’s part of No Child Left Behind. This year, a school must have an API score of 560 or above, or show a gain of at least one point.

For more information on the API, visit www.cde.ca.gov.

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