Scores improved across the board, most in the double digits, including some increases as high as 32 points over last year’s rankings, all of which is gratifying to teachers and administrators.
The API is the cornerstone of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act of 1991. It measures the academic performance and growth of schools through a point-based system determined primarily by the results of the California Standards Test, the California High School Exit Exam and by graduation rates among students. An API score of 800 or better means that a school is meeting its academic requirements.
The Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) had the highest gains at 778, a 32-point increase over last year’s scores, which showed double-digit losses due to a data snafu later confirmed by the California Department of Education.
For OUESD Superintendent Rick Rogers, the reversal of his district’s API fortunes is sweet. “No doubt about it: we’re very pleased,” said Rogers of the district’s gains. “Not withstanding the errors in the state’s calculations (last year), I’m very happy. As a district, it’s very good news, and particularly when you put into context what all the districts went through last year, it’s even more impressive.”
Vickey Rinehart, Knightsen Elementary School District (KESD) superintendent, shared Rogers’ enthusiasm. Despite the district’s ongoing financial challenges, KESD’s API scores were up 26 points over last year, placing the district in the coveted 800-plus range with a ranking of 830.
“How about that? Isn’t it marvelous?” said Rinehart. “We are so proud of the teachers and kids who have worked so hard, and now we’re seeing it really pay off. I was really proud of the Oakley folks, too, for their great progress. It shows how hard everyone is working.”
The Brentwood Union School District (BUSD) also showed significant gains, improving from an API of 786 last year to 812 in 2009, an increase of 26 points.
“This has been a real team effort and I’m very proud of all our schools,” said BUSD Superintendent Merrill Grant. “It’s a real testament to the parents and teachers and students that we can make a difference. It’s great news.”
The Liberty Union High School District (LUHSD) realized a 12-point increase over last year’s API scores, rounding out at 735. LUHSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Vinciguera said she was pleased with the district’s increase: “We are definitely improving, and our goal is to continue improving.”
The Antioch Unified School District saw more modest gains. Its 718 score was up three points over last year’s API of 715.
While the API measures a school district’s academic progress, the AYP (Academic Yearly Progress) holds districts responsible for that growth. Enacted in 2002 under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act, the AYP measures academic growth in all subgroups, including English learners, special education, socio-economic levels and race.
Under AYP, all the subgroups must reach the same nationwide proficiency targets each year. If they don’t, the school district is placed on Program Improvement (PI) until it meets AYP standards.
AYP guidelines were met by the Oakley, Knightsen and Bryon districts, allowing them to be taken off the PI program. AUSD, BUSD and LUHSD, however, remain on the PI status list.
“It’s a lengthy process (the PI status) to get through it,” said Grant, whose Brentwood district is on the list for the first time despite its increase in API scores. “But we’ll do what needs to be done and meet the requirements.”