API scores: SLO County schools outperform their peers

acornejo@thetribunenews.comAugust 29, 2013 

San Luis Obispo County students continue to outperform their statewide peers, while holding steady in their academic performance, according to results released Thursday by the state Department of Education.

Forty-eight local schools charted on the Accountability Progress Report have scores higher than the state goal of 800 on the Academic Performance Index, measured on a scale of 200 to 1,000. The same number of schools reached that goal last year.

The remaining schools are close to reaching that goal — many with scores that slipped slightly below the target.

In addition, 94 percent of high school students passed the exit exam in both English and math by the end of their sophomore year.

“The general movement continues to be good as far as I’m concerned,” said county schools Superintendent Julian Crocker.

The overall API score for all students in California was 789, a two-point drop from last year. In San Luis Obispo County, the overall score was API 825, up three points from 822 last year.

The measurements are based on state tests that students in grades 2 through 11 took last spring and on the California High School Exit Examination. The data is used as an indicator of schools’ success by the state.

Crocker noted significant achievements at several schools with student populations that include high numbers of students in poverty or English learners.

Cambria Grammar School, for example, maintained its score of 813 from the prior year. At that school, 52 percent of the students are English language learners.

“For a school to score over 800 with more than half of its students in that population is commendable,” Crocker said.

Lillian Larsen School in San Miguel, which also has a high English language learner population, increased its score to 779, up 12 points from the prior year.

“It’s one thing to have a high API, but improving the scores of students in those categories is worth noting,” Crocker said.

Schools that gained 10 points or more are: San Benito Elementary in Atascadero Unified; Mesa Middle School in Lucia Mar Unified; Bauer/Speck Elementary, Pat Butler Elementary and George Flamson Middle School in Paso Robles Unified; Bellevue Santa Fe Charter and Teach Elementary in San Luis Coastal; Lillian Larsen School in San Miguel Joint Union; Shandon High in Shandon Joint Unified; and Templeton Elementary in Templeton Unified.

Flamson Middle School surpassed the 800 mark for the first time last year and continued to make double-digit gains again this year. In addition, 91 percent of eighth grade students tested in Algebra scored either proficient or advanced.

On Thursday, students and staff at Flamson celebrated the gain with cupcakes.

Federal standards

The federal No Child Left Behind Act measures a school’s growth in 10 demographic categories, including socioeconomic status, native language, ethnicity and disabilities. This is called academic yearly progress, or AYP.

Each year the bar has been set higher, and educational professionals have long criticized the standard as impossible to meet.

By 2014, all students in those subgroups will be expected to be proficient or advanced.

“We are just one year away from everybody being perfect,” Crocker said. “And that is just not going to happen. It is very frustrating being told that we are expected to reach an impossible goal. And everyone knows it, yet it doesn’t seem like the law is being changed.”

If a school fails to reach that bar for any student group, the school fails the federal standard. If a school fails for two consecutive years, it becomes a program improvement school. To be removed from the list schools must also meet the federal standards for two consecutive years.

Thirty-six San Luis Obispo County schools are now in program improvement. That is up from 32 schools last year and 27 schools on the list two years ago.

“It is almost becoming a little bit irrelevant,” Crocker said.

Schools are now focusing on a new set of academic standards, known as the Common Core State Standards, which students will be tested on for the first time next school year (2014-2015). These standards place a stronger emphasis on analytic thinking, reasoning and writing.

How SLO County schools are progressing

Academic Performance Index scores (on a scale of 200 to 1,000) combine state standardized test scores with California High School Exit Exam results. The federal government then takes the math and English scores to see whether the schools have achieved “adequate yearly progress.” If a school doesn’t progress for two years, it can be put into program-improvement status. Such a designation allows parents to choose other schools for their children and can lead to a possible takeover if the school does not improve. Only Title 1 schools — those that get extra federal funding because they have many low-income families — are subject to the program-improvement requirements.

DISTRICT/School2013 API2012 APIMade API target
Met AYPProgram
Monterey Road Elementary848840YesYesNoNot Title 1
San Benito Elementary835813YesYesNoYear 3 in PI
San Gabriel Elementary828818YesYesNoNot Title 1
Santa Margarita Elementary828821YesYesNoNot Title 1
Santa Rosa Academic Academy811803YesYesNoYear 5 in PI
Atascadero Junior High836846YesNoNoNot Title 1
Fine Arts Academy874869YesYesNoNot Title 1
Atascadero High797804NoNoNoNot Title 1
Carrisa Plains Elementary571705NoYesNoYear 1 in PI
Creston Elementary787777YesYesNoNot in PI
West Mall Alternative 846818YesYesNoNot Title 1
Del Rio Continuation High631527YesYesNoNot in PI
Cayucos Elementary (K-8)911908YesYesNoNot in PI
Cambria Grammar813813YesNoNoYear 1 in PI
Santa Lucia Middle 847859YesNoNoNot Title 1
Coast Union High 763798NoNoNoNot Title 1
Branch Elementary894890YesYesYesNot Title 1
Dana Elementary809813YesYesNoYear 3 in PI
Fairgrove Elementary801828YesNoNoYear 2 in PI
Grover Beach Elementary781788NoNoNoYear 2 in PI
Grover Heights Elementary841862YesNoNoNot in PI
Harloe Elementary 847855YesNoNoYear 1 in PI
Dorothea Lange Elementary817821YesNoNoYear 5 in PI
Nipomo Elementary 799802NoNoNoYear 5 in PI
Ocean View Elementary898900YesYesNoNot Title 1
Oceano Elementary764771NoNoNoYear 3 in PI
Shell Beach Elementary891902YesYesNoNot Title 1
Judkins Middle839849YesNoNoYear 5 in PI
Mesa Middle821810YesYesNoYear 5 in PI
Paulding Middle873867YesYesNoYear 3 in PI
Arroyo Grande High802798YesNoNoYear 4 in PI
Nipomo High745778NoNoNoYear 3 in PI
Central Coast New Tech High806N/AN/AN/ANoNot Title 1
Lopez Continuation High578621NoYesYesNot in PI
Bauer/Speck Elementary771746YesYesNoYear 5 in PI
Georgia Brown Elementary765798NoNoNoYear 3 in PI
Kermit King Elementary842847YesYesNoYear 2 in PI
Pat Butler Elementary 861845YesYesNoYear 3 in PI
Virginia Peterson Elementary770803NoNoNoYear 2 in PI
Winifred Pifer Elementary796814NoNoNoYear 4 in PI
Daniel Lewis Middle825851YesNoNoYear 4 in PI
Flamson Middle841827YesYesNoYear 5 in PI
Paso Robles High778775NoYesNoYear 5 in PI
Independence High659908YesYesNoYear 1 in PI
Independent Study Center770781NoYesNoNot Title 1
Liberty High (Continuation)501576NoYesYesNot in PI
Pleasant Valley Elementary (K-8)849834YesYesYesNot in PI
Baywood Elementary 789794NoNoNoYear 3 in PI
Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter 927915YesYesNoNot Title 1
Bishop’s Peak Elementary 904912YesYesNoNot Title 1
Del Mar Elementary847844YesNoNoYear 3 in PI
Hawthorne Elementary842840YesYesNoYear 3 in PI
Los Ranchos Elementary898912YesYesNoNot Title 1
Monarch Grove Elementary866868YesNoNoYear 2 in PI
Pacheco Elementary858856YesNoNoYear 5 in PI
Sinsheimer Elementary 892883YesYesNoNot Title 1
Smith Elementary787828NoNoNoYear 5 in PI
Teach Elementary989975YesYesYesNot Title 1
Laguna Middle866867YesYesNoNot Title 1
Los Osos Middle838838YesNoNoNot Title 1
Morro Bay High824824YesNoNoNot Title 1
San Luis Obispo High814832YesNoNoNot Title 1
Pacific Beach High472609NoYesYesNot Title 1
San Luis County Special Edu.777792N/AN/ANoNot in PI
SLO County Community446484NoNoNoYear 5 in PI
Cappy Culver819834YesYesNoYear 1 in PI
Lillian Larsen Elementary (K-8)779767YesYesNoYear 5 in PI
Almond Acres Charter809N/AN/AN/ANoNot Title 1
Shandon Elementary784789NoNoNoYear 2 in PI
Parkfield Elementary760791NoYesNoNot Title 1
Shandon High 725701YesYesYesNot in PI
Templeton Elementary895874YesYesYesNot in PI
Vineyard Elementary (3-5)857870YesNoNoNot in PI
Templeton Middle 892898YesYesNoNot Title 1
Templeton High841848YesYesNoNot Title 1
Templeton Home794818NoYesNoNot Title 1
Templeton Ind. Study High 758702YesYesYesNot Title 1

NOTE: API calculated for all small and most ASAM schools is defined as having between 11 and 99 valid standardized testing and reporting (STAR) program test scores included in the API in eitiher 2012 or 2013. APIs based on small numbers of students are less reliable and, therefore, should be carefully interpreted.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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