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Students, districts get high scores

Posted: May 21, 2009 8:25 p.m.
Updated: May 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Most Santa Clarita Valley students exceeded state proficiency requirements in math and English this year, according to test scores released Thursday by the California Department of Education.

Scores for the four elementary school districts in the SCV, along with the William S. Hart Union High School District, all were 800 or more on the California academic performance index, which ranges between 200 and 1,000.

In total, 13 individual schools within those districts didn’t score above 800 on the battery of tests, while 40 local schools scored above 800.     

“The state wants every student to range between proficient and advanced by 2014,” said David LeBarron, William S. Hart Union High School District director of curriculum and assessment. A score of 800, which is the goal the state wants schools to aim for, represents a school district where the majority of students show proficiency in math and English, he said.

The scores are not an average for the students in the district, LeBarron said. The index is weighted, and students who are poor performers the previous year and improve the next year help the district boost its index score.   

The test numbers released Thursday are from exams taking during the spring of 2008. The raw test scores from the 2008 tests were released in August and readjusted in May of this year, LeBarron said.

“Each year the (API) tests are tweaked and the scores from the previous year are readjusted so when the current year’s scores (2009) are released this August, you can compare apples to apples,” he said.  

In other words, the scores from the previous year’s test are scaled against the current year’s exam. Doing so allows schools to see how much they’ve improved, or slipped, in specific areas. This allows them to tailor their curricula accordingly, said Kathy Wright, assistant superintendent for Sulphur Spring School District.  

In 2008, Sulphur springs used the scores from the academic performance index tests to target places to improve.

“We identified reading comprehension as a place to improve,” Wright said. “Reading can improve the kids in science and math, especially with word problems.”

Even though the districts in Santa Clarita scored above 800, the state goal for student performance, there is still room for individual schools and students to improve.

Students fall into five different academic categories. Students are rated as far below average, below average, basic learners, proficient learners and advanced learners. The state wants to move all students to the proficient and advanced categories by 2014. Helping underperforming students improve is beneficial to both the student and the school district in terms of the academic performance index score, LeBarron said.

“They (the underperforming students) get much more of our attention, and they should. We want them to perform better on the API,” he said. For more information on API scores and to see scores of a specific school go to the California Department of Education Web site at //  



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