Alameda public schools gained ground in statewide testing this year, posting a districtwide API score of 852, up five points over last year, according to numbers released Thursday by state school chief Tom Torlakson.
Also at the district level, several groups of students showed improvement: the Hispanic/Latino student score rose 22 points; Black or African American, 15 points; and students with disabilities, 13 points.
Among elementary schools, Edison Elementary recorded the highest API score — 948 — for 2013. All elementary schools except Maya Lin scored at or above the state target of 800.
At the high school level, Encinal High and Island High (continuation school) both showed substantial gains over last year and met their growth targets, although they continued to fall short of the 800 mark.
"This builds on the district’s steady API growth for the last four years," said Superintendent of Schools Kirsten Vital in a statement shortly after scores were released.
"These are results all of us in the district – students, teachers, staff, and parents – can be proud of. We are all responsible for every child succeeding.” (See more information from the Alameda Unified School District below.)
The API is a score ranging from 200 to 1,000 that measures how well students do on a variety of tests, including the California Standards Test and the state’s high school exit exam. The state has set 800 as the API target for all schools to meet. Here’s a detailed summary of the API from the California Department of Education.
Statewide, the number of California schools meeting the state target for student performance on standardized tests dropped by 2 percent.
In 2013, 51 percent of the state’s schools earned an Academic Performance Index score of 800 or above, compared to 53 percent the previous year.
Based on 2013 test scores, 56 percent of elementary schools, 50 percent of middle schools, and 31 percent of high schools are now at or above the 800 mark.
In the last decade, the number of schools meeting the target of an 800 API has increased by 30 percent.
The state’s overall API dropped two points to 789 from 791, but Torlakson was quick to note that the statewide API for poor students and students learning English increased five points and one point, respectively.
From an Alameda Unified School District press release:
AUSD schools received scores ranging from 785 to 948 (excluding Island High School, the district’s continuation high school, which is subject to different requirements). Twelve out of 15 schools (80%) exceeded the state’s overall API target score of 800; seven of those 12 exceeded 900.
Individual schools also made substantial gains in API. Encinal High School, for instance, increased its API 37 points; ASTI increased 28 points; Haight Elementary increased 23 points; Wood Middle School increased 19 points; Edison Elementary School increased 6 points; and Otis Elementary School increased 5 points. Maya Lin School's score increased 71 points from the previous base API set at Washington Elementary (this is Maya Lin's first year as an AUSD magnet school).
Both Haight Elementary School and ASTI met the specific “Annual Yearly Progress” (AYP) growth targets in ELA and Mathematics required by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Earhart Elementary School's data showed a drop in API of 12 points, due to a minor procedural error that will be corrected in September. Once that happens, district staff estimate that Earhart’s API will increase by 10 points.
API scores in Math improved significantly for 9 out of 11 subgroups, including: African American/Black students (15 points), Hispanic/Latino students (22 points), Filipino students (9 points), Socioeconomically Disadvantaged students (9 points), and Students with Disabilities (13 points). English Learners decreased by 3 points.
"Clearly, our achievement gap is shrinking, but there is more work to be done," Superintendent Vital said. "Like many districts across the state and country, we will continue to try to identify and then resolve the factors that contribute to this gap, so that every student will succeed."
State AYP Goals
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), states must set “Annual Measurable Objectives” to determine whether a school or district is making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards the goal of 100% of students being proficient in ELA and Math by 2013-14. That AMO increases by 11 percent each year and is calculated using a variety of test scores. This year the state set the district AMO targets at 89% proficient (or advanced) for ELA and 89.1% proficient (or advanced) for Math. (Schools and districts can also reach the AYP via “Safe Harbor,” which is a calculation demonstrating reasonable growth towards the target.)
This year, AUSD's score as a whole decreased in ELA by 0.9% (73.7% to 72.8%) and increased in Math by 1.5% (73.5% to 75%). Three subgroups of students – Asian students, Filipino students, and Hispanic/Latino students -- met AYP through Safe Harbor.
Three AUSD schools continue to be in NCLB’s “Program Improvement” (PI) category, which means they (or any of their significant subgroups) have not made AYP for two consecutive years in either ELA or Math. Paden Elementary will advance to PI Year 2; Ruby Bridges will advance to PI Year 3; and Wood Middle School will advance to PI Year 4. Under NCLB, these three schools must make improvements or face sanctions from the federal government, which can include closing, replacing their staff, or restructuring as a charter school.
“Our school sites, supported by the district, continue to dedicate resources to making gains in their academic achievements,” Vital said. “We are very proud of the progress they have made.”
In addition, AUSD itself, like three other unified school districts in Alameda County this year, has been placed in Program Improvement Year 1. This brings the total number of unified districts in the county categorized as “PI” to 16 (out of 18 total).
The only two that are not in PI are Piedmont Unified and Sunol Glen Unified, which is composed of only one elementary school.
“Despite five years of increasing scores, we were unable to meet the mandated 11 percent increase," said Superintendent Kirsten Vital. “This is an issue that currently affects more than 88 percent of the districts in this county. But we are very proud of the fact that our district met its targets for so many years. We will continue to celebrate these successes and work toward meeting the goals, even as we look forward to what will be a dramatically changed climate for learning and testing as we begin implementation of the Common Core State Standards this year.”
API and AYP results for AUSD are available on the CDE website.