State Superintendent Tom Torlakson announced Thursday 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.”
Results released by Torlakson show that 59 percent of elementary schools, 49 percent of middle schools, and 30 percent of high schools are now meeting the state benchmark. (Table 1)
The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. School and student group targets are set at 5 percent of the difference between the school or student group’s Base API score and the statewide target of 800, with a minimum target of 5 points. All numerically significant student groups at a school must meet their growth targets for a school to meet its API growth target.
The school level results reflect the continued improvement of students statewide. The overall API score for all students increased by 10 points for 2012, to 788, with substantial gains among all student groups.
African American students and students with disabilities realized the largest gains with an increase of 14 points for each student group, to 710 and 607, respectively. Latino students and English Learners also posted strong gains, with Latinos adding 11 points to 740 and English Learners adding 10 points to 716. Asian and white students made smaller gains of 7 and 8 points respectively, but still have the highest API totals among student groups of 905 and 853 respectively. (Table 2)
Statewide, elementary schools API score grew by 7 points to 815, middle schools by 14 points to 792, and high schools by 11 points to 752.
Along with the annual API scores, Torlakson also unveiled the California Department of Education’s new School Quality Snapshot, a free, online accountability tool that puts a wide variety of academic results and other information about a school’s performance at the fingertips of parents and the public. These reports—visual representations of data schools already reported to CDE—represent a first step in how the Department and the State Board of Education plan to use data to better inform the public about the progress of California schools as they reshape the School Accountability Report Card and revise the Academic Performance Index as required by Senate Bill 1458 (Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento).
And as required by federal law, CDE also released the results for the federal school accountability measures created under No Child Left Behind: Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Program Improvement (PI). (Tables 6, 7, 8, and 9)
“California’s request for a waiver from the requirements of NCLB is still pending,” Torlakson noted. “While we’re waiting for the flexibility we need, we’re not going to allow a flawed system to distract us from the work we’re doing to help schools improve.”