Every school in the Saugus, Newhall and Castaic School Districts scored 800 or better in the 2012 Academic Performance Index, according to a report released today by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. Of the 57 local schools reporting, only six received scores less than 800.
The Superintendent was also excited to announce that for the first time a majority of California’s public schools met or surpassed the statewide target for academic achievement on the 2012 Academic Performance Index (API).
Some 53 percent of schools scored at or above the state target of 800, an increase of 4 percentage points over last year, marking a decade of steady growth. Ten years ago, only 20 percent of schools met or surpassed the API target.
“We’ve set a high bar for schools and they have more than met the challenge, despite the enormous obstacles that years of budget cuts have put in their way,” Torlakson said. “The incredible efforts of teachers, administrators, school employees, parents, and students should serve as an inspiration to us all. While there’s still more work to do, California’s schools have earned a vote of confidence.”
Schools in the Santa Clarita Valley showed consistent improvement, with nearly all public schools achieving scores of 800 or higher. In the Hart Distict, only one high school, Golden Valley, scored 781, but showed significant improvement from last year. Every school in the Saugus District achieved scores ranging from 809 to 942; In the Newhall District scores ranged from 832 to 981; in the Sulphur Springs District, only Canyon Springs, which also showed significant improvement over last year’s numbers, scored 794, with all other schools scoring between 804 to 909. Every school in the Castaic District, which also includes Castaic Middle School, scored over 800. (Complete scores for all Santa Clarita Valley public schools are listed at the end of this story).
This year, the Hart District’s API score of 838 is an increase of 8 points from last year’s score and places it as a leader in the state among similar union high school districts. 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).
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 scores above 800 being the goal for all districts and schools.
Academic Performance Indexes are also calculated for large subgroups – ethnic minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged, English learners and students with disabilities – which account for the state’s much discussed “achievement gap.” All of these subgroups in the Hart District showed district wide 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 937. The Academy is a school of approximately 400 students grades 9 – 12, located on the campus of College of the Canyons.
The largest component of the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) accountability system is determined by a districts or schools progress toward meeting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s goal that 100 percent of its students score proficient or better in English-language arts (ELA) and math by 2014.
These goals, or percent proficient targets, increase annually and have now become very challenging, especially for students with disabilities and English learners. Most schools and districts across the state will miss their AYP targets in these areas. In the Hart District all 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.
This year the Hart District met 32 of its 42 AYP targets, missing in the students with disabilities, socioeconomically disadvantaged, English learners, Black or African American, and Hispanic or Latino subgroups. Individual schools which missed their AYP targets also did so because of scores for students with disabilities, English learners, Hispanic or socioeconomically disadvantaged subgroups.
The AYP target percentages this year were 78.0 percent of students at proficient or above in ELA and 78.2 percent in math, up from 67.0 and 67.3 percent from last year. The Hart District recorded proficiency rates of 72.9 percent for ELA and 69.8 percent for mathematics.
“Our students have shown excellent growth overall, and our subgroups have also shown progress,” 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 feels that the team approach to learning is the most critical element in the district’s success.
“When we look at the standardized tests, we don’t see that as an end product, we see that as a tool to really help us do a better job with our students,” he said. “When we get these scores back, my principals take their data and start breaking it down. They’re more focused on groups, not the whole school; they are looking how certain groups performed on certain tasks, what are some of the strands the students struggled with, what subgroups are falling behind.
“Once we get that information, then we work with actual departments and intervention groups. That’s where the teachers and parents work together. For instance, Special education students – we’ll start talking to them about what the academic needs are as well and what can we do to support that and help that, intervention at the schools. Parents need to be aware of that, engaging their students in the intervention. Someone needs to get the students there. Someone needs to make sure the student is doing their homework. Someone needs to hold us accountable. That’s why the parent involvement is so important.
“Kids are only with us six hours a day and they’re at home 18 hours a day,” LeBarron continued. “Unless we’re communicating, talking with each other, holding each other accountable at times, there may be gaps. Our job is to make sure that there are as few gaps as possible.”
Newhall School District (2012 score: 906/2011 score: 903)
Stevenson Ranch 981/977
Oak Hills 942/949
Pico Canyon 937/925
Valencia Valley 905/908
Wiley Canyon 881/877
Old Orchard 872/883
Newhall 832/808 * greatest growth in last year
Castaic Union School District (839/843)
Northlake Hills 868/866
Castaic Elementary 845/854
Live Oak Elementary 800/823
Castaic Middle 841/838 * greatest growth in last year
Sulphur Springs Union School District (844/832)
Golden Oak 909/888
Sulphur Springs 878/866
Fair Oaks Ranch 855/851
Leona Cox 815/799
Mint Canyon 814/755 * greatest growth in last year
Valley View 804/808
Canyon Springs 794/779
Saugus Union School District (890/876)
West Creek Academy 939/929
Charles Helmers 923/911
Tesoro Del Valle 919/929
Plum Canyon 899/875
North Park 892/870
James Foster 880/871
Emblem 871/845 * greatest growth in last year
Santa Clarita 862/844
Rio Vista 857/833
Skyblue Mesa 809/805
William S. Hart Union High School District (838/830)
Santa Clarita Valley International 764/789
Junior High schools:
Rancho Pico 924/901
Rio Norte 900/899
Arroyo Seco 850/834
Sierra Vista 840/808 * greatest growth in last year
La Mesa 820/800
Academy of the Canyons 937/941
Einstein Academy 910/908
West Ranch 856/852
Valencia 850/819 * greatest growth in last year
Golden Valley 781/770
Opportunities for Learning 705/697
Mission View 661/624
Learning Post 819/820