Portola Middle School in El Cerrito showed a marked improvement in the latest API (Academic Performance Index) scores released Thursday by California's Department of Education.
The school's 2012 score, derived from the standardized STAR tests taken by students this past school year, showed Portola with an overall 734 score, still below the state target of 800 but significantly above the school's previous score of 704 based on the previous year's STAR tests.
Heading in the other direction was Madera Elementary School, which saw its score fall to 928 from the previous 949. Experiencing a minimal reduction was Fairmont Elementary to 794 from 797.
Kensington Hilltop Elementary continued to post a high API score, rising to 956 this year from 949, and Harding Elementary jumped above the state's target of 800, hitting 816 from the previous 798.
El Cerrito High scored 670, a 12-point gain from its previous 658. High school API scores, unlike middle and elementary school scores, includes results of California High School Exit Examinatioin (CAHSEE) in addition to the STAR tests results.
In the state as a whole, 53 percent of schools scored at or above the target of 800, though the statewide average score, 788, was below the target. The previous statewide score was 778.
The 2012 API score for the West Contra Costa Unified School District as a whole was 715, up from the previous 707.
API Close-up at El Cerrito High
Results varied at each school by student groups. Here, for example, are the variations reported for El Cerrito High:Number
taking test 2011 API 2012 API Schoolwide 896 658 670 Black or African American 272 533 558 Asian 176 763 755 Filipino 29 758 738 Hispanic or Latino 229 621 639 White 185 777 785 Socioeconomically Disadvantaged 473 587 623 English Learners 203 592 579 Students with Disabilities 111 455 480
Portola's 30-point increase was the biggest change in API scores among the six public schools in El Cerrito and Kensington and is likely to be seen as another sign of the turnaround at the once-troubled school where parents, teachers and administrators have been making concerted efforts to raise standards and increase resources. Portola's principal, Matthew Burnham, was recently named Middle School Principal of the Year for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
The accompanying chart illustrates the changes at each school compared to the district and state.
Proficiency scores in English and math also released
The Department of Education also released the annual Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for all schools, an accountability scorecard mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind.
Those figures show several schools with large percentages of students below proficiency in English in math.
At El Cerrito High, 51.1 percent scored proficient or better in English, with 47.9 percent in math.
Portola had 56.6 percent proficient or better in English, but only 34 percent in math.
Among elementary schools, Kensington posted the highest results with 91.6 percent proficient or better in English and 87.5 percent in math. At the other end of the spectrum for elementary schools was Fairmont with 57.8 percent proficient or better in English and 57 percent in math.
An accompanying chart shows the proficiency results for all schools as well as the district and state percentages.
New online "School Quality Snapshot" unveiled
State education officials also introduced a new online "School Quality Snapshot," which the department described as "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."
You can enter a school's name and see a report with colored charts showing test scores, enthic/racial make-up, average class size, percent of students in the healthy fitness zone and other information.