Several Santa Clarita Valley schools continued to rank among the highest in the state according to the Accountability Progress Report released today by the California Department of Education.
Some perspective from district administrators:
This year, the Hart District’s API score of 824 is an increase of 8 points from last year’s score. The district’s outstanding API score is the result of efforts by teachers, staff and administrators at all district schools. The report lists the performance of California public schools based on two accountability systems, the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
Don't miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered right to your inbox 
API scores are calculated by converting a student’s performance on statewide assessments across multiple content areas into points. These points are then weighted and averaged across all students and all tests for their schools and district, resulting in the school’s and district’s API. API scores can range from 200 to 1000 with the scores above 800 being the goal for all districts and schools.
Academic Performance Indexes are also calculated for large subgroups – ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged, English learners and students with disabilities – which account for the state’s much discussed “achievement gap.” Most subgroups in the Hart District showed growth in their scores.
The district’s highest API was achieved by the Academy of the Canyons Middle College High School, which scored an API of 930. The Academy is a school of approximately 400 students grades 9 – 12 which is located on the campus of College of the Canyons.
All Hart District junior high schools scored over the 800 state API goal, as did Academy of the Canyons, Hart, Saugus, Valencia and West Ranch high schools. Rio Norte and Rancho Pico junior high along with Academy of the Canyons, Golden Valley, Hart, and West Ranch high schools made the most impressive gains in API scores this year, raising their scores by 12 points or more from last year. While Bowman High School’s index decreased from last year, the school’s 637 API is still above most continuation schools in the state.
The largest component of the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) accountability system is determined by a districts or schools progress toward meeting the No Child Left Behind goal that 100 percent of its students score proficient or better in English-language arts (ELA) and math by 2014.
This year the Hart District met 33 of its 38 AYP targets, missing in the students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged, English learners, and Hispanic subgroups for both ELA and math and for the African American subgroup in ELA. Individual schools which missed their AYP targets also did so because of scores for students with disabilities, English learners, Hispanic or economically disadvantaged subgroups.
The AYP target scores rose significantly this year as the AYP requirements push upward toward the goal of 100 percent proficient. This year’s high school targets were 56.8 percent of students at proficient or above in ELA and 58.0 percent in math, up from 44.5 and 43.5 percent from last year. The Hart District recorded proficiency rates of 69.5 percent for ELA and 68.7 percent for mathematics, well above this year’s AYP targets.
The new percent proficient targets of AYP have become very challenging, especially for students with disabilities and English learners, and most schools and districts across the state will miss their AYP targets in these areas. In the Hart District most of its significant subgroups of students performed better than last year, but due to the proficiency rate targets being raised several did not meet this year’s AYP target.
“Our students have shown excellent growth overall, and our subgroups have also shown progress, but we can do more,” said David LeBarron, director of curriculum and assessment. He noted that the school sites have developed strong, research based intervention programs for students and special education faculty has aligned its curriculum to the state standards in a drive to better serve their students with special needs.
LeBarron noted that the continual growth in the district’s API scores and its ability to meet most of its AYP targets does not happen automatically. “It is the result of our teachers, support staff, and administrators working very hard to assess, evaluate and improve their instruction and our students’ performance,” he explained. “Their work, combined with the support we receive from our parents and community, is the core of a school culture that is focused on meeting the academic needs of all of its students.”
The California’s Academic Performance Index (API) report validates the strong performance of the ten elementary schools within the Newhall School District. Newhall’s district-wide API leaped from 888 last year to 896 this year. The district’s API has steadily increased for the last seven years and it once again is the highest ranking school district in the Santa Clarita Valley. Newhall has topped the Santa Clarita Valley’s district API list for the last six years.
The state goal for the API is 800 and every school in the Newhall district exceeds this benchmark. Four of Newhall’s schools (Stevenson Ranch, Valencia Valley, Oak Hills, and Pico Canyon Elementary Schools) have APIs that exceed 900 on the state’s 1000 point scale.
The API is based on the State’s STAR testing so the results came as no surprise to Newhall administrators who have been analyzing STAR scores since they were released in August.
Nancy Copley, assistant superintendent of instruction for Newhall, said there are many factors that contribute to the district’s success. “We have been training teachers in a coherent writing program for six years. Writing is such a powerful skill that it affects every other aspect of achievement and we are seeing the results. We have also been concentrating on the academic needs of English Language Learners and training teachers in effective instructional methods for these students. Our teachers have effective instructional techniques and work very hard, at every site, to take all children to their highest potential. The API is a validation of their efforts.”
The current API in the Newhall district is an admirable accomplishment in a district where about 26% of the students have limited English skills. At some sites (McGrath, Newhall, Wiley Canyon, Old Orchard, and Peachland Schools) the limited English speaking students make up a third to a half of the student population. These schools also have some of the highest level of students living in poverty in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The school wide index at sites impacted by limited English speaking students often masks even stronger achievement among other groups. If one peels apart the API, one finds that Anglo students, generally unencumbered by language barriers, are doing extraordinarily well. The API at the district’s namesake school, Newhall Elementary, tells this story. While the schoolwide index of 813 is above the statewide goal of 800, Anglo students at the site actually achieved an API of 916, placing them solidly among Anglo students at the district’s other schools.
LOCAL SCHOOL RANKINGS
District key: C = Castaic
- H = Hart
- N = Newhall
- S = Saugus
- SS = Sulphur Springs
School name (district) API Growth
Stevenson Ranch (N) 965 +8
Oak Hills (N) 949 +16
Pico Canyon (N) 920 +12
Bridgeport (S) 934 +19
Valencia Valley (N) 905 -22
Tesoro del Valle (S) 899 -3
Mountainview (S) 904 +7
Meadows (N) 893 +32
NorthPark (S) 884 -9
Golden Oak (SS) 903 +10
Charles Helmers (S) 915 +24
Wiley Canyon (N) 879 +19
Emblem (S) 874 -3
Old Orchard (N) 867 +17
Rosedell (S) 872 +5
Plum Canyon (S) 864 no change
McGrath (N) 859 +4
Peachland (N) 858 -15
Castaic (C) 862 +5
Sulphur Springs (SS) 860 +3
Santa Clarita (S) 863 +9
James Foster (S) 859 +7
Bouquet Canyon (S) 865 +15
Northlake Hills (C) 871 +23
Fair Oaks Ranch (SS) 850 +13
Mitchell (SS) 859 +26
Pinetree (SS) 834 +4
Highlands (S) 813 -16
Skyblue Mesa (S) 816 -8
SCV International (charter) 810 -33
Leona Cox (SS) 809 -10
Newhall (N) 813 +1
Valley View (SS) 791 -13
Live Oak (C) 813 +12
Rio Vista (S) 800 +1
Mint Canyon (SS) 792 +24
Canyon Springs (SS) 752 -6
Cedarcreek (S) 785 +33
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS
Rancho Pico (H) 902 +15
Rio Norte (H) 884 +23
Placerita (H) 873 +7
Arroyo Seco (H) 833 -1
Castaic Middle (C) 831 +8
Sierra Vista (H) 820 +2
La Mesa (H) 802 +5
(All Hart District)
Academy of the Canyons 930 +52
West Ranch 854 +18
Valencia 839 +6
Hart 816 +12
Saugus 814 no change
Canyon 779 -6
Golden Valley 760 +12
Opportunities for Learning 703 +21
Mission View (charter) 630 -17
SMALLER, ASAM SCHOOLS
Learning Post Alternative 787 +27
Sequoia Charter 592 -10
Bowman Continuation 637 -33
The State’s view
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today released California's 2009-10 Accountability Progress Report (APR), which provides results from the state accountability system: the Academic Performance Index (API), as well as the federal accountability system, comprised of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Program Improvement (PI). Both the API and AYP are based upon results from the statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program and from the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE).
"For the eighth year in a row, California schools have made gains in academic achievement and narrowing the achievement gap," O'Connell said. "While we cannot be satisfied until the achievement gap is eliminated and all students are well-prepared for college and careers, this significant progress should be celebrated.”
The 2010 Growth API report shows that all student subgroups statewide demonstrated improvement between 11 and 17 points. Statewide, when all subgroups are combined, California students increased their API by 13 points. The subgroup of students who are Hispanic or Latino increased their API this year by 17 points. Similarly, the socioeconomically disadvantaged student subgroup increased their API by 17 points. Black or African American students increased their API by 15 points, and white students increased their API by 11 points. While the API results indicate a slight narrowing of the gap between subgroups, white and Asian students continue to have significantly higher API scores (See Table 2). For API point growth by student groups statewide at the elementary school, middle school, and high school levels (see Tables 3, 4, and 5).
Forty-six percent of all California schools are now at or above the overall statewide target API of 800, up four percentage points from the year before. This includes 51 percent of elementary schools, 40 percent of middle schools, and 25 percent of high schools (See Table 1).
“When we set the target goal of 800 on the API 10 years ago, it was ambitious and it challenged most California schools that had never been held accountable for improving academic achievement,” O’Connell said. “Now that nearly half of our schools are at or above this API target, it is time to have a serious conversation about raising the target goal. California schools are made great by hardworking students, teachers, administrators, paraeducators, school board members, and parents. I know that they could meet this challenge by keeping up the momentum and helping even more students reach higher levels of success.”
The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, with a statewide target of 800. 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. All numerically significant subgroups at a school must meet their growth targets for a school to meet its API growth target. These subgroups include race and ethnicity subgroups, socioeconomically disadvantaged students, English learners, and students with disabilities.
The state API and federal AYP results report progress in different ways. The state API is an index model that measures year-to-year improvement and provides incentives to educators to focus on students at all performance levels. Schools receive more API points for moving students up from the lowest-performance levels. In contrast, the federal AYP system focuses solely on whether or not students are scoring at the proficient level or above on state assessments.
In 2010, the AYP targets for the percentage of students expected to score at the proficient level or above on state assessments increased about 11 percentage points across the board from 2009. The AYP targets will continue to rise each year to meet the current federal requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (See Table 6).
Fewer elementary and middle schools made AYP than in 2009. Twenty-six percent of all middle schools made AYP in 2010 while 40 percent of all elementary schools made AYP in 2010 (See Table 7). The most recent graduation rate data are not currently available. As a result, a final AYP determination for local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with grade twelve students cannot be made. The AYP reports for LEAs and high schools will be updated in November after the graduation rate data become available.
Under ESEA, each state defines what it considers to be a proficient level of performance for students in English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics. California is widely recognized for having some of the most rigorous content and achievement standards in the nation. LEAs, schools, and subgroups must meet annual measurable objectives in both ELA and mathematics to make AYP. For elementary and middle schools, AYP is based on results from the California Standards Tests (CSTs), the California Modified Assessment (CMA) in grades three through eight, and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) in ELA and mathematics. At the high school level, AYP is based on results from the tenth grade census administration of the CAHSEE in ELA and mathematics.
Schools, school districts, and county offices of education that receive federal Title I funds and do not make AYP criteria for two consecutive years are subject to identification for PI. For the 2010-11 school year, 567 schools were newly identified for PI. Eighty-three schools exited from PI after making AYP for two consecutive years (See Table 8). Schools in PI are subject to a five-year timeline of intervention activities. For example, schools in Year 2 of PI must offer supplemental education services (e.g., tutoring) to eligible students and offer students the option to transfer to a higher-performing school in the district.
ESEA also requires states to identify LEAs for PI. In California, LEAs include school districts, county offices of education, and statewide benefit charters. For 2010-11, 45 LEAs were newly identified for PI, zero exited, leaving a total of 341 LEAs in PI. This represents 36.5 percent of the total number of LEAs receiving Title I funds (See Table 9).
Schools and LEAs have an opportunity to review their data and make corrections. API, AYP, and PI reports will be updated in November 2010, and again in February 2011.
All reports and data files are available through the APR Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ar/index.asp .