Educators examine recently released API scores
The API is a numeric index ranging from 200 to 1000 with a statewide target of 800. According to a press release from CDE, 53 percent of California schools met their API growth targets, which is an increase of 8 percentage points from 2007. The press release also said 36 percent of the schools are now at or above the 800 target, which is up five percentage points from last year.
Superintendents of schools who increased their scores attributed the success to the teachers and more focused learning, student assessment and individualized attention.
Lassen County’s API scores are:
Ft. Sage Unified School District
Sierra Primary School significantly increased its score from 544 to 602.
Ft. Sage Middle School increased its score from 542 to 631.
Herlong High School lost four points, scoring 619,which is down from last year’s 623.
Janesville, who was in the 1 percent of the state to score over 800 last year, scored 809 with a one point growth over last year’s 808. Schools who reach the 800 mark have a target growth rate of 1 percent.
Janesville School Superintendent Zach Thurman said staff is doing a great job and he’s proud of the students for doing well, too.
Janesville staff will also continue working with students who are scoring basic and below basic and getting them up to proficiency.
For example, Thurman said if a student is struggling with reading, a teacher may pull him or her aside to work on a focused reading program and provide them with more practice.
However, he said teachers naturally provide immediate intervention with students who need extra help before or after school or during lunchtime.
Johnstonville School beat its target growth rate of five points, increasing its score by 24 points. Johnstonville scored 763 on the API, which is up from last year’s 739.
Johnstonville School Superintendent Lou Istrice said, parents, faculty and staff are very proud of this achievement.
“The expectation for 2008-09 would be an on-target API of 769, however, we have set a lofty goal of 773,” Istrice said.
Istrice said a positive quality of the STAR test is, “It causes us to think more particularly, and on the basis of data, about what we need to do at our school to help students do better. The STAR test results, along with other information, create better plans for supporting student achievement in after school programs, assignment of support services such as instructional aides and in targeted instruction. Rather than taking a negative view of the test, we can use it to inform us about how to improve.”
Lassen Union High School District
Lassen High School scored 744 increasing its score from last year’s 725.
Diamond Mountain Charter High School had a significant increase scoring 660. Last year it scored 577 on the API. Credence High School also increased its scored from 599 to 631.
Alternative Education Principal Brett Mitchell said the success in API scores is a result of an outstanding, knowledgeable and hardworking staff.
He said staff and classroom aides provide targeted intervention for students struggling in different subjects by classroom aides. Mitchell also said staff also worked hard on curriculum and instructional delivery.
“All the teachers are committed to providing students with the best quality education as possible,” he said.
When the staff is committed to the students and are hard working, something good is bound to come out of it, Mitchell said.
Long Valley Charter School
Long Valley Charter School lost 54 points, scoring 705 on the API, which is down from last year’s 759.
Long Valley Charter School Director Pam Auld said the STAR testing reflects a day in time with the students. She said some of the students may not have felt well when taking the test or aren’t good test takers.
However, Auld said LVCS has changed its math curriculum and will be looking more closely at instruction and providing supplemental materials, some of which will be online.
Meadow View School
Meadow View School scored 782 on the API increasing its score by 10 points from last year.
Susanville School District Superintendent Gary McIntire said the increase is largely due to the efforts of the school’s teachers and really focusing on teaching the curriculum
He said teachers have also been able to provide more individual attention by working with students in small groups.
McKinley School increased its API score from 737 to 751. McIntire listed several strategies McKinley used to help raise the test scores.
He said the school uses EduSoft, a software designed to quickly assess students and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Based on the results, teachers can then provide intervention and targeted instruction in small groups.
Students are also given reading time and are separated into groups based on their reading level. However, McIntire said students practice reading at their next level.
McKinley also provides after-school remediation for students who are behind and an after-school program where students receive homework assistance with a teacher.
McIntire said last year, McKinley also started using Soar to Success, a remedial reading program at Janesville School
Diamond View School
Diamond View School lost 19 points, scoring 702 on this year’s API.
Patty Gunderson, DV School principal, attributed several things to the drop.
Last spring, the Susanville Fire Department declared the Diamond View campus was unsafe for students, faculty and staff. The district had temporary classrooms constructed in the gymnasium and multi-purpose room to operate through the end of the school year. Diamond View now operates as a separate school at Meadow View School, located on Paiute Lane.
Gunderson said she wasn’t making excuses, but the testing situation was less than ideal in the temporary classrooms.
She also said Diamond View tested more students in Algebra I than in the past. By California state standards, Gunderson said eighth-grade students are taught Algebra I. By 2010, school will be required to test students in Algebra I so Diamond View decided to make a conscious effort to teach algebra to more students than in the past. However, when it came to testing, schools could choose to test students in general math or algebra.
Gunderson said last year, three out of the five math classes were assessed in Algebra I, but historically only students in the advanced math class were tested. In addition, if eighth-grade students were tested in general math, schools were penalized because it is considered out-of-level testing.
As a way to help students and help test scores, Diamond View went to a block schedule this year giving students longer periods and more instruction in English language arts and math.
Students who need basic math instruction are assigned an additional 30 minutes a day in this subject. The homework and remediation programs offered before and after school will still be offered as well.
Gunderson said staff and administration will also continue to identify strategies to increase test scores across the board.
Richmond School, which was also in the one percent in the state to score over 800 last year, increased its API from 826 to 835.
Richmond School Superintendent Cindy Nellums said staff really concentrated on writing. Students in the fourth and seventh grades must do a writing sample on the first Tuesday of March. Writing samples are incorporated into the STAR test results.
Nellums said she and the staff participated in writing training and as a result she said the students scored well in the writing portion.
The number of kids scoring advanced and proficient dramatically improved. Nellums attributes it to the training and the schoolwide goal to focus on writing.
In seventh grade, 18 out of 27 students scored proficient or advanced on the writing test. Students can receive a score of one through eight on the California rubric and Nellums said some of the students received scores of six or eight.
In fourth grade, 17 out of 27 students scored proficient or advanced. Last year, only one child scored in that range.
Nellums said the fourth grade class did very well in general on the STAR test and the sixth-grade class was also high performing.
In sixth grade, Nellums said 75 percent of the students were proficient or advanced in ELA and math.
In fourth grade, 96 percent of the students scored proficient or advanced in ELA and 89 percent were proficient or advanced in math.
Nellums said Algebra test scores went up and the two students enrolled in Richmond’s geometry course scored proficient or advanced.
However, Nellums said there were some classes that were down a bit. Nellums said second grade scores were down as a whole for most schools in the county and there were other small declines for Richmond.
Nellums said Richmond School is very standards-based and has implemented a standards-based report card.
Nellums said staff at Richmond School are very, very pleased and feel like the students did really well.
Teachers as group feel like they met their goal of significantly improving Algebra and writing scores.
Nellums said now that Richmond has reached its goal of 800, it takes a concentrated effort to continue increasing the API score.
At that point, Nellums said the school has the bulk of the students functioning where it wants them, so all the efforts go to students scoring basic and below basic.
Nellums said Richmond will continue to working on the state standards and writing in hopes of improving even more.
Shaffer School scored 697, which is down five points from last year’s API score of 702.
Shaffer School Superintendent Jason Waddell said part of the reason for the decline is less students were tested than last year.
He also said staff really worked with students who were scoring basic or below basic and helped those students improve their test scores. However, there were other students staff couldn’t get where they needed to be.
Waddell said the eighth-grade class had lower scores than it had in a while, but it also had the worst attendance rate in the past several years, which probably played a part in the lower test scores.
Shaffer School will be working on providing positive promotions for better attendance and Waddell said Shaffer will also be looking at streamlining schedules to provide more time in core curriculums.
Shaffer School will also be using new science and math curriculum. Waddell said the math course is taught at a more stringent pace, so it is expected remediation courses will need to be put into place.
Anytime there is new curriculum, Waddell said it is expected there will be a period of time for teachers and students to adjust, so Shaffer is expecting to spend extra time on remediation this year.
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