Lodi Unified School District moved closer to the coveted 800-mark in the annual Academic Performance Index figures released by the state Wednesday. The district increased its growth API figure by 12 points to 749, up from the base rate of 737 reported in the spring. Additionally, slightly more schools exceed the state’s 800-point threshold than last year, and many more are close to achieving the goal.
Still, the district failed to meet the federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind Act, also known as the Adequate Yearly Progress report, and met only 23 of the 42 specified criteria.
Based on this, the district was already in its third year of program improvement.
Although overall test scores are up in area schools, struggling students in many generally high-achieving districts statewide did not show enough improvement, causing an increased number of campuses to be labeled as “failing” under federal guidelines.
The release of this year’s API figures came less than a week after the state superintendent sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan requesting immediate relief from the flawed policies of NCLB. He proposed that California be allowed to freeze the imposition of sanctions under program improvement and mandatory identifications including labels such as “failing” for the coming school year
Lodi Unified School District
This year, 13 schools met that mark, up from 12 last year. But many more — such as George Lincoln Mosher Elementary School at 799, Live Oak Elementary School at 795 and Lodi High School at 791 — are just a few points away from the coveted mark.
The district’s schools with the highest APIs for 2011 are Elkhorn Elementary School and Aspire Vincent Shalvey Academy, with scores of 992 and 936, respectively. Both schools raised their 2010 scores by four or more points.
With an average of 820, Aspire charter schools’ 30 campuses are the highest-performing large school system in the state, serving two-thirds or more high-poverty students. In addition, two-thirds of Aspire schools surpassed the target score of 800, the state’s measure of a high-performing public school.
Its other Lodi Unified schools also saw high scores.
Data also showed:
- Needham Elementary, with a 711 (up from 663), and Live Oak (up from 746) showed the largest jump since last year’s report.
- Others with double-digit improvement include: Clairmont Elementary (up 27 points), Parklane Elementary (up 40), Westwood Elementary (up 38) and Morada Middle (up 28).
- Heritage Primary, after seeing a significant gain the past two years, dropped 39 points to an API of 652. Liberty High, too, saw a 10-point decrease after two years of jumps. Both were among the schools with the biggest drop from last year’s scores.
- 16 schools had gains of at least 10 API points, with 13 of these schools achieving gains of 20 or more points.
- The two comprehensive high schools in Lodi each made a 22-point gain in their scores.
Tokay High Principal Erik Sandstrom sent a staff email Wednesday congratulating teachers for their dedicated instructional efforts and the efforts and learning of students to earn a 735.
Not only did the schoolwide API go up, but the API of every subgroup also went up. These include race and other socio-economic demographics.
“Yes, we have had some years with schoolwide growth, but still had some subgroups slip backward — not this year. ... Again, this is due to your dedication to your teaching and is testimony to what Tokay High students can do,” Sandstrom wrote.
The API for subgroups districtwide also showed increased proficiency.
Galt Joint Union Elementary School District
The district bested its highest-ever API (811) scored last year with an 825 in this year’s report.
Additionally, four of the district’s six schools scored above the 800 mark. The other two are within 10 and 20 points, respectively.
Superintendent Karen Schauer is proud of the results, but said more work is needed to improve ongoing data use with collaborative action.
“I am very proud of our API results and continued improvement. As a district we exceeded the state’s API points for overall score and each subgroup, (and) our elementary schools made the federal proficiency target for each subgroup.”
Every school also saw an increase in scores, with Valley Oaks Elementary making the biggest jump — 37 points — to 790. Last year, it was the only school to see a drop in scores, following 2009’s increase from 737 to 769.
All of the district’s schools, save for Greer Elementary, met the state growth target. Still, the school scored 780, up four points from last year.
“Even with the continued and significant academic growth, our district continues in program improvement and four elementary schools are in year one of program improvement due to No Child Left Behind Requirements,” Schauer said in an email.
Still, the district failed to meet AYP. Even the elementary school that made the most growth improvement (Valley Oaks) and schools that exceeded the state target of 800 (River Oaks with 868 points and Marengo Ranch with 841 points) are now in program improvement.
“With time, my hope is that the federal and state accountability requirements will reflect greater alignment so that school district continuous improvement efforts can be more effectively implemented for our students,” Schauer said.
Galt Joint Union High School District
The district’s API of 771 showed a continued increase; last year it went up 17 points to 745.Estrellita saw a 98-point jump for an API of 631. Two years ago, the school went down 27 points.
Galt and Liberty Ranch earned scores of 756 and 797, respectively. Both were improvements over last year’s scores, where Galt received a 742 and Liberty Ranch, 783.
Superintendent Daisy Lee attributes the steady improvement to specific training on effective instruction. About 60 teachers have received the training in the last two years following by administrative support and regular classroom visits.
“We called those visits ‘focus walks,’” Lee said. “When teachers teach effectively, students will learn and master the contents taught.”
More so than in the past, teachers also have focused conversations on effective teaching and data-focused planning. Many teacher leaders provided peer support to other teachers by presenting at faculty meetings and during collaboration time, according to Lee.
“Last year, we have also updated many of our core subject courses of study by adding pacing guides and benchmark assessments to the courses of study. I anticipate an even more focused instruction this year when teachers started to teach on pace with each other and administer the same quarterly benchmark assessments,” she said.
“From the results of the assessments, teachers will be able to pin point the strengths and weaknesses of student learning and adjust their lesson planning to meet the needs of the students.”
All three campuses also met their growth targets, including all subgroups, but failed to make AYP. The district met only 17 of the 22 federal criteria and remains in program improvement for the second year.
Lee said there is still subject-specific work to be done in math, as algebra scores from ninth to 10th grade are problematic.
- Students in the one-school Arcohe Union School District near Herald saw a decline in this year’s growth API of 735. It met none of its growth targets.
- Oak View Union Elementary School District in Acampo also saw a drop, albeit only a three-point decline from 862 to 859. However, it met all of its growth targets, including subgroups. The one-school district serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
- New Hope School District in Thornton also met all of its growth targets. The school saw a 20-point jump to an API of 753. Additionally, all of its subgroups saw double-digit gains.
None of the three met their federal AYP requirements, and risk being placed in program improvement.
Statewide, a record 49 percent of California schools met or exceeded the state’s API target, even as the federal NCLB formula threatened to label 913 newly identified campuses as failing.
In all, 55 percent of elementary schools, 43 percent of middle schools and 28 percent of high schools met or surpassed the state API target of 800.
“I applaud the hard work our students, teachers, parents, school employees and administrators are doing to improve — even in the face of severe cuts to school funding,” State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a press release. “At school after school, and among every significant ethnic group, California’s students are performing better than ever. The failure here is in our politics, not our public schools.”
Each state defines what it considers to be a proficient level of performance for students in English-language arts and mathematics. California is widely recognized for having some of the most rigorous standards in the nation.
Statewide, API scores showed continued improvement across the board, with statewide growth of 11 points, propelled by a 14-point gain among English learners and Hispanic students and a 10-point gain among black students. Asian and white students posted smaller gains of 8 and 7 points, respectively.
How the numbers are calculated
The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. School and subgroup targets are set at 5 percent of the difference between the school or subgroup’s Base API score and the statewide target of 800, with a minimum target of 5 points.
Although individual student scores from each year within a two year-cycle are used, the system is a measure of the progress of the overall instructional program rather than an indicator of individual student growth. As such, individuals and groups of students may be making considerable gains from one year to the next, and the API may not reflect this if students changed schools or districts from during the two-year cycle, Lodi Unified Assistant Superintendent Catherine Pennington said previously.
The accountability system is based upon results from the statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, which showed nine consecutive years of rising scores among California students, and from the California High School Exit Examination. Both were released last month.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.