All schools score above state goal.
School District topped the charts
for the third year in a row as the highest-scoring school district in Santa
Clarita, according to California’s
Academic Performance Index (API) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports
issued today by the California Department of Education.
With a district API of 882, which was 9 points higher than
its 2007 scores, Newhall led the pack of high achievers, all scoring better
than the state goal of 800. Other district scores: Saugus Union District scored
852 (up 4 from 2007); Castaic 822 (+9); Sulphur Springs 815 (+2) and Hart
District with 804 (up 13 points)
Of 54 area schools, 39 achieved more than 800 on the API,
where scores vary from 200 to 1000. Several schools are close, making slow and
steady improvement over the last few years; others are implementing programs to
address shortcomings in areas needing improvement.
Dr. Marc Winger, Superintendent of the Newhall
School District, was ecstatic about
improvement at McGrath Elementary
School, where API scores jumped 50 points over
last year, something he attributes to a new writing program.
“We’ve been doing in-service with teachers since the school
opened six years ago,” he said. “Writing permeates each subject and this jump
in scores proves the effectiveness of pushing really hard and working with the
As the district with the highest concentration of Hispanic
students (21 percent), Newhall’s focus on reading, writing and language arts
can be credited with directly improving scores of those students for whom
English is a second language.
While the API is a statewide assessment system, AYP measures
school and district achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Program.
According to Dave LeBarron, Director of Curriculum and
Assessment at the Hart District, expected continued improvement by area schools
is a benefit of the complicated testing and assessment system.
“No Child Left Behind is a good thing. It’s not just how
every school does, it’s how every subgroup does,” he explained. “We are
expected to meet the needs of every student and we’re accountable for that.
Because we’re supposed to be 100 percent proficient by 2014, we have been
forced – and that’s a good thing – to make sure every English language learner,
every special education student and every student with a disability has their
academic needs met and perform to the best of their abilities.”
Some districts are still dealing with challenges, such as
the Sulphur Springs District, where Leona Cox dropped 11 points, Pinetree 8
points and Valley View 7 points.
“It’s nothing drastic,” said Dr. Kathy Wright, Assistant
Superintendent for Instructional Services for the Sulphur Springs District.
“It’s more a matter of changing demographics. We have a pattern where we go up
one year and down the next, which we’re trying to halt.”
Wright was quick to point out the success of Mint Canyon
Community School, which jumped 33 points.
“I think that’s completely credited to the ExCel program, a
reading program that groups students by STAR (Standardized Testing And
Reporting) scores. They get targeted and focused instruction and sometimes we
lower the class size by bringing instructional aides into the classroom. They
may spend the whole hour getting small group instruction and it shows in their
Saugus District schools with high improvement were
Bridgeport and James Foster, which each improved 22 points; scores dropped at
Helmers (-16), Highland (-9), Rio Vista (-8) and Cedarcreek (-7). Saugus
district officials were unavailable for comment.
For complete reports, go to the state’s website at www.cde.ca.gov  and click on “testing and