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UPDATE: Local schools outpace state peers on API scores

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Posted: August 29, 2013 11:30 a.m.
Updated: August 29, 2013 4:59 p.m.

API scores released today showed Santa Clarita Valley schools sank slighly over the previous year but still scored well above the 800 target mark. The scores were based on standardized tests given last year. A new school year started the week of Aug. 12. Signal file photo.

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SANTA CLARITA - Most Santa Clarita Valley school districts saw slight decreases in their Academic Performance Index scores released Thursday by the California Department of Education, but each continued to exceed the state average.

Of the five school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley, only one — the Sulphur Springs School District — saw its API score increase this year. The district scored 847 this year, up four points over its 2012 base API.

API scores, which can range between 200 and 1,000, are calculated using student performance on state standardized tests.

The state goal is for schools and school districts to score 800 on the API, a mark easily surpassed by all local school districts this year.

Sulphur Springs School District
The Sulphur Springs district saw double-digit API score increases at Valley View Community School, Pinetree Community School and Canyon Springs Community School.

Canyon Springs showed the largest API gain in the district, its 2013 score of 828 being a 34-point gain over last year’s mark.

Only one district school, Mint Canyon Community School, fell below the 800-point mark this year. Mint Canyon’s API score fell 25 points from last year to stand at 789 in 2013.

Newhall School District
The Newhall School District’s API score of 905 was the highest of any district in the Santa Clarita Valley.

This mark was only slightly down from last year, when the district had an API score of 906.

Superintendent Marc Winger said the district is more interested in how schools are performing over a multiple-year period than a one-year comparison, as that provides a more complete view of how scores are trending.

Three of the district schools — Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School, Old Orchard Elementary School and Peachland Elementary School — saw their scores dip by at least seven points from last year, according to state figures.

Meadows Elementary School, however, saw an API score of 902, a 17-point increase from last year.
Every school in the Newhall district had an API score of at least 833.

Stevenson Ranch Elementary School scored the highest of any school in the Santa Clarita Valley with 978.

Saugus Union School District
The biggest change in API scores on a district level was in the Saugus Union School District, which saw its mark fall by 14 points from last year.

“The drop is really an anomaly for us; it’s not something we’ve seen previously,” said Christine Hamlin, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

But even with the decrease, the district had the second-highest API score in the Santa Clarita Valley at 875.
All the schools in the Saugus district scored above 800 points in 2013.

Skyblue Mesa Elementary School was the only school in the district to see its API mark increase this year, with its score of 823 up 14 points from a year ago.

Rio Vista Elementary School saw the largest decrease in API scores in the district, its mark of 813 being 44 points below last year.

Cedarcreek Elementary School and Santa Clarita Elementary School both saw their scores decline by 23 points from last year, to 801 and 839 respectively.

Hamlin said years of budget cuts, which led to cuts in the number of days of instruction in the school year, could have played a role in scores’ decline.

“That makes an impact,” she said. “Instructional time is important.”

Castaic Union School District
The overall API score for the Castaic Union School District declined two points from last year to stand at 842.

Castaic Middle School’s score fell to 840, an 11-point decrease from last year. Live Oak Elementary School, however, had an API score of 826, a 26-point jump from last year.

Lisa Bloom, director of instruction and special projects for the district, said she was especially pleased with improvements seen in the district’s populations of students who are socio-economically disadvantaged, English-language learners, Hispanic or Latino, noting significant improvements in API scores for all those groups.

“Our subgroups did really well,” she said.

Hart district
The 2013 API score for the William S. Hart Union High School District declined three points to 840.

Large gainers include Academy of the Canyons, which saw a six-point increase in scores to hit 943 this year, and Arroyo Seco Junior High School, which saw a five-point increase to mark a score of 868.

Other large changes were seen at Placerita Junior High, where scores decreased from 900 last year to 879 this year, and Sierra Vista Junior High School, which saw a decrease from 858 last year to 844 this year.

While each of the district’s junior high schools scored above the 800-point mark, two of the district’s high schools, Canyon and Golden Valley, were below with API scores of 799 and 772, respectively.

District officials attributed some of the decline this year to stringent state standards on student proficiency in math and English-language arts.

“The small reduction in API scores of some Hart district schools this year reflects the challenge of meeting what many educators consider to be impossible proficiency requirements for certain large sub-groups,” reads a news release from the district.

David LeBarron, director of curriculum and assessment for the Hart district, said the API scores help schools in the district gauge their academic performance.

“We take these things very seriously,” LeBarron said. “It’s not just a test we put in a drawer.”

LeBarron said district and school officials are already combing through the data to see where there are areas for improvement and where there are educational programs or strategies that are working effectively.

“We really work hard to have a very collaborative process because what works at one school is a great option for other schools,” LeBarron said.

Even with the slight decline in scores this year, Santa Clarita Valley school districts continued to largely outpace their peers statewide, where the overall API score for students of all grade levels was 789.

Statewide, students in grades 2-6 scored 810, students in grades 7-8 scored 800 and high school students scored 756.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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