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New API Scores Released for Local Schools

The latest Academic Performance Index scores – released Thursday by state education officials – showed four schools in El Cerrito and Kensington improving from last year and two schools with lower scores. Portola posted the biggest increase.

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. 

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Christina Slamon October 12, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Congratulations Portola and Mr. Burnham. Keep the momentum going!
Marty October 12, 2012 at 06:02 PM
The within-school variance seems greater than the between-school variance so pooling the data to create a schoolwide API is suspect. Also, that no sub-group at ECHS ranked >800 suggests that our brighter kids are being ill served by the district's "race to the middle." Board candidate Groves has made this point often.
Stephanie Sisk-Hilton October 12, 2012 at 07:58 PM
The subgroup scores are broken down by ethnic group. I am not sure how the fact that no one ethnic group scored well allows one to conclude that the "brighter" kids are being poorly served. There is a big gap in the ECHS data in how some subgroups perform compared to others, but performance gaps (which are persistent across the nation, certainly not just in El Cerrito) are generally seen as a sign that the school is NOT doing its job. It may well be that high-performing kids are not well served at the school, but we certainly can't conclude that from the data given. One ethnic group doesn't contain the "brightness" of a school population.
CCResident October 12, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Let's celebrate our accomplishments. We can be proud of what has been accomplished this past year, at Portola especially (huge and heartfelt thanks to Matthew Burnham!). That being said, Todd Groves is right. We can do better, especially by our subgroups. We can always do better. Every child should be served, and served well. Period.
Mike C October 12, 2012 at 09:06 PM
The breakdown is not just by ethnicity, it's also by socioeconomic status and English language fluency. They don't show it, but you can easily work out these missing scores: 723 for "NOT Socioeconomically Disadvantaged" 697 for "NOT English Learner"
Trish McDermott October 12, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Go Portola! Keep the momentum going Mr. B! Congrats!
Dorothy Coakley October 12, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Nicely done, Portola!
Marty October 12, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Then explain why the Asian and white (European) subgroups at Albany, Berkeley and other districts where those groups have similar SES to those same groups at WCCUSD have API >800. Albany HS have seven National Merit semifinalist; we have two. Your point that the achievement gap is a sign the school is not doing its job supports my argument that WCCUSD sees its job as pushing everyone to the middle rather than to their highest individual potential. "Equity" over excellence.
Marty October 12, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Then explain why the Asian and white (European) subgroups at Albany, Berkeley and other districts where those groups have similar SES to those same groups at WCCUSD have API >800. Albany HS has seven National Merit semifinalist; we have two. Your point that the achievement gap is a sign the school is not doing its job supports my argument that WCCUSD sees its job as pushing everyone to the middle rather than to their highest individual potential. "Equity" over excellence.
Jean Womack October 13, 2012 at 02:16 AM
I am proud of those kids AND their teachers.

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