About 64 percent of San Luis Obispo County schools are surpassing a state academic achievement benchmark, according to results released Thursday by the California Department of Education.
Forty-eight schools have scores higher than the target of 800 on the Academic Performance Index — and many schools that haven’t reached the target aren’t far behind.
“Overall there’s progress that’s being made,” county schools Superintendent Julian Crocker said. “I think our community should be very pleased and it’s attributable primarily to a strong teaching force.”
Though some schools made large gains, others saw their scores drop from last year — a fact that Crocker attributes in part to budget cuts, which have slashed millions of dollars from the county’s 10 districts in the past few years.
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Many districts have cut programs or support staff that could help struggling students improve in English and math. Class sizes have also increased, and these two factors could be showing up in the form of lower test scores, Crocker said.
“I think it’s simply a matter of fewer resources to deal with particularly needy kids,” he said. “If I have more kids in my class I have less time to really address the needs of particularly struggling kids.”
Also, the number of county schools that didn’t meet federal requirements continues to grow as more and more schools slip into the label of “program improvement.”
Part of the reason is that the bar that schools are required to meet has once again been ratcheted up, Crocker said.
“Sooner or later virtually all schools will be in program improvement,” he said.
Statewide, only 35 percent of schools are meeting the federal requirements, which have been criticized as impractical by state education officials.
Still, San Luis Obispo County students continue to perform better than their state counterparts.
For the first time, the majority of California public schools — 53 percent — met the target, state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a news release. The overall API score for all students in the state is 788.
In San Luis Obispo County, the overall API score is 822.
The measurements are based on state tests that students in grades 2 through 11 took last spring and on results from the California High School Exit Examination. The data is used as an indicator of a school’s success by the state.
Several schools made large gains, including Cayucos, Del Mar and Hawthorne elementary schools; and Daniel Lewis and Santa Lucia middle schools.
Of the 48 schools that achieved or surpassed the target goal, seven elementary schools scored 900 or above: Shell Beach, Cayucos, Ocean View, Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter, Bishop’s Peak, Los Ranchos and Teach.
Templeton Elementary School had the largest year-over-year gain with an improvement of 70 API points — yet it’s a bit of an anomaly.
The school only has transitional kindergarten through second-grade students. So, of the school’s 445 students, only about 140 second-graders took the test.
The gain was achieved, Principal Jill Southern said, by putting a concentrated effort toward at-risk students by doing things such as adding a homework club after school.
That program has since been cut because of budget constraints.
“We aren’t able to offer a lot of the things that worked for us last year,” Southern said. “Our goal this year will be to maintain what we did last year.”
In the Lucia Mar district, the county’s largest school district, administrators saw scores drop at more than half of its schools — more than any other district in the county.
Andy Stenson, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum, attributes part of the decrease to budget cuts.
“The amount of help that we’re able to provide kids either before or after school, in summer school or in intervention teachers is not at the level it needs to be at in order for us to see solid growth,” he said.
Five of the nine schools that had lowered scores still came in above the 800 mark.
The district also had some notable achievements, including Grover Heights Elementary’s success in pulling out of program improvement.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act measures a school’s growth in 10 demographic categories, including socioeconomic status, native language, ethnicity and disabilities.
Each year the bar is raised and more schools fail to meet the requirements despite strong academic gains. The 2001 Act requires that nearly all students be academically proficient by 2014.
State educational leaders have long criticized the requirements, calling them unattainable. Torlakson sought a waiver from the requirements last year, but that request is still pending. If a school fails to meet the growth targets 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 meet the federal standards for two consecutive years.
Thirty-two schools in San Luis Obispo County are in program improvement, compared with 27 schools on the list last year, and 16 schools on the list two years ago.
Fifty-nine percent of those schools in program improvement have API scores above 800 — up from 44 percent last year.
Crocker said he’s not overly concerned about the schools that are in the fifth year of program improvement, primarily because he thinks the No Child Left Behind metric will be modified when the federal act is reauthorized.
“If we can just maintain where we are now, a more reasonable metric will be in place that will take into account achievement and improvement instead of trying to meet what I kind of think is an arbitrary requirement,” he said.
Find out more
The California Department of Education has a new online tool that parents and the public can use to see how a school is scoring on state standards. The School Quality Snapshot provides school-specific test scores, class-size and graduation rates among other information.
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/School||2012 API||2011 API||Made API target schoolwide||Met API subgroups||Met AYP||Program improvement|
|Monterey Road Elementary||841||839||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|San Benito Elementary||814||839||Yes||No||No||Year 2 in PI|
|San Gabriel Elementary||818||804||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|Santa Margarita Elementary||821||823||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|Santa Rosa Academic Academy||802||794||Yes||Yes||No||Year 4 in PI|
|Atascadero Junior High||844||840||Yes||No||No||Not Title 1|
|Fine Arts Academy||871||839||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Atascadero High||804||796||Yes||No||No||Not Title 1|
|Carrisa Plains Elementary||705*||742*||No||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|Creston Elementary||779*||770*||Yes||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|West Mall Alternative||809*||765*||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|ASAM (alternative) schools|
|Del Rio Continuation High||524||620*||No||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|Cayucos Elementary (K-8)||906||873||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not in PI|
|Cambria Grammar||813||813||Yes||No||No||Not in PI|
|Santa Lucia Middle||850||825||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|Coast Union High||795||789||Yes||No||Yes||Not Title 1|
|LUCIA MAR UNIFIED||813||816|
|Branch Elementary||890||907||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|Dana Elementary||813||816||Yes||No||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Fairgrove Elementary||828||821||Yes||Yes||No||Year 1 in PI|
|Grover Beach Elementary||791||826||No||No||No||Year 1 in PI|
|Grover Heights Elementary||864||846||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not in PI|
|Harloe Elementary||856||872||Yes||No||No||Not in PI|
|Dorothea Lange Elementary||822||‡||‡||‡||No||Year 4 in PI|
|Nipomo Elementary||801||813||Yes||No||No||Year 5 in PI|
|Ocean View Elementary||900||902||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Oceano Elementary||770||771||No||No||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Shell Beach Elementary||903||897||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Judkins Middle||833||825||Yes||No||No||Year 4 in PI|
|Mesa Middle||785||782||No||No||No||Year 4 in PI|
|Paulding Middle||855||838||Yes||Yes||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Arroyo Grande High||788||798||No||No||No||Year 3 in PI|
|Nipomo High||778||783||No||No||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Lopez Continuation High||621*||586*||Yes||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|Bauer/Speck Elementary||746||788||No||No||No||Year 4 in PI|
|Georgia Brown Elementary||798||786||Yes||Yes||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Kermit King Elementary||847||818||Yes||Yes||No||Year 1 in PI|
|Pat Butler Elementary||844||836||Yes||Yes||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Virginia Peterson Elementary||802||825||Yes||No||No||Year 1 in PI|
|Winifred Pifer Elementary||814||828||Yes||No||No||Year 3 in PI|
|Daniel Lewis Middle||841||810||Yes||Yes||Yes||Year 3 in PI|
|Flamson Middle||820||820||Yes||No||No||Year 5 in PI|
|Paso Robles High||774||777||No||No||No||Year 4 in PI|
|Independence High||606*||658*||No||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|Independent Study Center||774*||845*||No||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|Liberty High (Continuation)||576*||572*||No||Yes||Yes||Not in PI|
|PLEASANT VALLEY JT. UN. ELEM.||832||825|
|Pleasant Valley Elementary (K-8)||832*||825*||Yes||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|SAN LUIS COASTAL UNIFIED||845||834|
|Baywood Elementary||794||809||No||No||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter||917||909||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Bishop’s Peak Elementary||913||900||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Del Mar Elementary||844||811||Yes||Yes||No||Year 2 in PI|
|Hawthorne Elementary||840||817||Yes||Yes||Yes||Year 2 in PI|
|Los Ranchos Elementary||914||917||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Monarch Grove Elementary||869||869||Yes||Yes||No||Year 1 in PI|
|Pacheco Elementary||856||839||Yes||Yes||No||Year 5 in PI|
|Sinsheimer Elementary||882||866||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Smith Elementary||828||791||Yes||Yes||No||Year 4 in PI|
|Teach Elementary||975||984||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Laguna Middle||856||852||Yes||No||No||Not Title 1|
|Los Osos Middle||821||801||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|Morro Bay High||819||807||Yes||Yes||No||Not Title 1|
|San Luis Obispo High||830||824||Yes||No||No||Not Title 1|
|SLO CO. OFFICE OF EDUCATION||492||466|
|San Luis County Special Edu.||792*||771*||N/A||N/A||Yes||Not in PI|
|SLO County Community||471||456*||No||No||No||Year 5 in PI|
|SAN MIGUEL JOINT UNION ELEM.||783||774|
|Cappy Culver||831||810||Yes||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|Lillian Larsen Elementary (K-8)||759||751||Yes||Yes||No||Year 5 in PI|
|SHANDON JOINT UNIFIED||756||712|
|Parkfield Elementary||791*||N/A||N/A||N/A||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Shandon Elementary||778||752||Yes||Yes||Yes||Year 1 in PI|
|Shandon High||695*||661*||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not in PI|
|Templeton Elementary||874||804||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not in PI|
|Vineyard Elementary (3-5)||870||863||Yes||No||Yes||Not in PI|
|Templeton Middle||889||884||Yes||Yes||No||Not in PI|
|Templeton High||851||861||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Templeton Home||806*||831*||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|Templeton Ind. Study High||710*||694*||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Title 1|
|* This API is calculated for a small school or LEA, defined as having between 11 and 99 valid standardized testing and reporting (STAR) program test scores included in the API. The API is asterisked if the school or LEA was small in either 2010 or 2011. APIs based on small numbers of students are less reliable and, therefore, should be carefully interpreted.|
|‡ A testing irregularity at the school prevented the state from issuing a score for it. The district is working to resolve the issue to make sure it does not happen again.|