Despite huge gains made the previous year, Estrellita High School in Galt tumbled close to 150 points in the annual progress reports handed out to all California schools on Thursday.
The same report shows that Lodi students as a whole are improving. Just like last year, the district's score as a whole jumped 12 points, up from the base figure of 708 to 720.
However, Lodi Unified met only 39 of the 46 requirements set by the government. Last year, it met all but one.
Statewide, 53 percent of California schools made their improvement targets, eight percentage points better than 2007.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools and school districts to meet a variety of academic performance goals in order to reach their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals.
Those schools and school districts that participate in Title 1, a NCLB program that provides funding to assist in educating low-income students, are placed in Program Improvement if they do not meet their AYP goals.
Academic Performance Index (API) scores are released twice a year to rank schools and track growth at a statewide level. The first, released in the spring, is a base figure, while the ones released this week reveal if the school is improving and has met its growth targets. Those make up the AYP scores.
Both are calculated by the California Department of Education and help determine how much state funding a campus can receive based on what goals each school has met.
Like last year, Galt Joint Union High School District met all of its AYP requirements this year, although its overall score took a dip, falling from 731 to 727. In 2007, the district dropped 10 points.
But Estrellita High School scores took a huge 144-point fall, down from its extraordinary 699 base figure to 555 this year. In 2007, it jumped from 512 to 699 - a 187-point leap.
School Superintendent Thomas Gemma could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Compared to Estrellita, Galt High remained relatively unchanged, dropping only one point to 737. That score comes less than a year after the campus was named by U.S. News and World Report as one of the best high schools in the nation - and four years after it was tagged by the state as a school in dire need of improved test scores.
Schools statewide were supposed to hit a more difficult target this year for the AYP program. The percentage of students who must be proficient in English language arts and math increased significantly for the first time in three years, according to the state Office of Education.
The state index ranges from 200 to 1,000 points, and although all schools would like to score at or above the 800-point benchmark, few Galt or Lodi schools have achieved that goal.
The scores are based on results from various California Standards Tests, including STAR testing. The figures for each grade level were released two weeks ago.
This year, the AYP report shows Lodi Unified needs improvement in both English language and mathematics. Not enough students rated at a "proficient" level. While the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District also needs improvement in the subjects, specifically among students with disabilities, most students continued to show strides in growth. This year's districtwide score was up 13 points, from 759 to 772.
"As we look at the information, in terms of Sacramento County, we have the fourth highest scores," Superintendent Karen Schauer said. "That 800-point goal? We think we can do it."
She recognizes that the bar has been raised, especially for the English-language learners.
"We made growth, but not enough to meet the federal requirement," she said, adding that the district's educators are continuing to look at the figures and at ways they can change how they teach.
The trend over past years seems to be repeating itself in Lodi Unified.
"We didn't make API, but it's encouraging that we're not going backwards," said Ed Eldridge, coordinator of assessment, research and evaluation. "The district has made an effort to increase proficiency, and the positive changes we've made are visible."
Last year, the district's AYP score also jumped by 12 points, from 697 in 2006 to 709. Black students in the district scored 20 points higher than they did last year, while Hispanic and Latino students' scores increased by 10 points over 2007's rankings. In fact, every subgroup except Pacific Islander students improved.
The high schools' rates remained relatively unchanged, although a few Lodi elementary campuses greatly improved, including Lois E. Borchardt, which saw a 40-point gain to 788.
"We're always excited to make growth," Eldridge said.
Districtwide, 40 percent of the schools met their target AYP rate, while 37 percent did not, but still enjoyed an improved overall score. The remaining 23 percent remained the same or declined and did not meet their targets.
Neighboring Oak View Elementary School District in Acampo, however, met all of its targets, and its overall score fell just 6 points, from 848 to 842.
The 2007 base figure is calculated from results of statewide testing in spring 2007, but was released in May 2008, according to the state office of education.
The growth API, released after the base API is calculated in exactly the same fashion and with the same indicators as the prior year base API but from test results of the following year. For example, this year's growth rate, released this week, was calculated from results of statewide testing in the spring.
For more information about how figures are calculated, visit www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ar/.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.