API scores alert public on schools
by Tracy Press
Mar 28, 2007 | 677 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Public schools in the Tracy area received their 2005-06 report cards Tuesday on the eve of taking this year’s battery of state standardized tests. The emotions on campus, like the state’s Academic Performance Index scores, are mixed.

The Academic Performance Index is the cornerstone of Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999, a measure crafted by politicians to pacify an angry public that asked why California kids were lagging in reading, writing and math skills. API measures the academic performance and growth of schools from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. The API score is an indicator of a school’s performance level. The performance target for all schools is 800, with a growth target score added on each year.

Locally, Discovery Charter, Monticello, Hirsch, Primary Charter, Traina, Wicklund, Lammersville and Hawkins elementary schools surpassed the magic 800 number.

Besides the raw score, each school is ranked on a 1-to-10 scale statewide and with similar schools (based on a formula of socioeconomic factors). A school ranked 1 is among the lowest-scoring 10 percent, while one ranked 10 is among the highest scoring.

Countywide, 33 schools — nearly 19 percent — ranked 7 or higher. Four are from Tracy Unified School District (two of them charter schools), all four Jefferson schools and both Lammersville and Mountain House (Wicklund Elementary) schools. Ninety-five schools — about 54 percent — earned statewide ranks of 4 or lower, placing them in the bottom 40 percent of schools across the state. They include seven from TUSD.

The rest ranked 5 or 6.

When it comes to similar school rankings, there are concerns. All except one of 18 Tracy Unified schools that were compared are ranked among the lowest 20 percent; 13 of them in the lowest 10 percent.

We’re perplexed. Discovery Charter, for example, has locally the highest score of 838. How can it be the worst in its group statewide if it’s at the very top of the state rankings We agree with TUSD’s testing director, Carol Anderson-Woo, that “it (school comparisons) doesn’t make sense.”

For the reader, we suggest looking at the raw score and state ranking and comparing them with other schools here and elsewhere and demanding even more excellence — improved curriculum, quality teaching, greater monitoring of student performance and better adaptation of instruction to the child’s needs.

Concerned parents should talk to their children’s teachers and school principals to get other measurements of classroom performance. The API scores and rankings are indicators to scrutinize, but they’re not the end-all.

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