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Hart beats state API goals

Posted: September 4, 2008 10:23 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.

 

The Hart district shot up 13 points in the state's Academic Performance Index (API), exceeding the state's goal of 800 points with an overall district score of 804.

Ten of the district's 17 schools also exceeded the state goal and almost every school noted significant growth over last year's API score, according to data released Thursday by the California Department of Education.

"Districtwide that is right where we want to be - 804 is a very good score and we're very proud of that," said Dave LeBarron, director of curriculum and assessment for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

API scores are calculated by converting a student's performance on statewide assessments across multiple
content areas into points.

These points are then averaged across all students and all tests for their schools and district, resulting is the school's or district's API. API scores can range from 200 to 1000 with scores above 800 being the goal for all schools and districts.

Academic Performance Indexes are also calculated for subgroups - ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged, English learners and students with disabilities - which account for the state's much-discussed "achievement gap." All subgroups in the Hart District showed growth except English learners, whose score remained the same.

The district's highest API was achieved by Early College High School, which scored an API of 889. The score is especially significant since the school targets its recruitment toward students who wouldn't necessarily have considered themselves college-bound. The school, which offers high school and college classes to its students simultaneously, has a majority of students from ethnic minorities who are often the first in their families to attend college.

Academy of the Canyons also increased its API by 23 points over last year to score 869. Other schools scoring above the 800 state API goal are Hart, Saugus, Valencia and West Ranch high schools and Arroyo Seco, Placerita, Rancho Pico and Rio Norte junior high schools. Canyon and Golden Valley high schools and Sierra Vista Junior High made significant gains over last year's API as they approach the 800 API goal.

While Bowman High School's index decreased 27 points from last year, the school's 598 API is still above most continuation schools in the state. In addition, Bowman's index increased by 130 points from two years ago.

Another facet of today's Accountability Progress Report is the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), used to evaluate schools' progress toward meeting the No Child Left Behind goal that 100 percent of students score proficient or better in English/language arts (ELA) and math by 2014.

The Hart District met 36 of 38 AYP criteria, missing only in the students with disabilities subgroup, for both ELA and math. Individual schools that missed their AYP targets also did so because of scores for students with disabilities and, in a few cases, for English learners or economically disadvantaged subgroups.

"In previous years, the California Department of Education factored in an extra 20 percent to the proficiency for (students with disabilities) because no modified test is available," said Vicki Engbrecht, Hart District's assistant superintendent of instructional services. "This year the federal government disallowed this calculation and, as a result, the Hart District, like most others in Los Angeles County, fell shy of the required target for this subgroup."

Target scores also rose significantly this year as AYP requirements push upward toward the goal of 100 percent proficient. This year's targets were 34 percent of students at proficient or above in ELA and 34.6 percent in math, up from 23 percent and 23.7 percent last year.

The Hart District recorded proficiency rates of 66.7 percent for ELA and 64.8 percent for mathematics.

"Our students have shown excellent growth overall, and our subgroups have also shown progress, but we need to do even more," LeBarron said. He noted that the special education faculty and staff have developed strong intervention programs and the district has aligned textbooks to the state standards and instruction in special education classes in a drive to better serve students with special needs. LeBarron said Hart District students with disabilities have shown growth and actually would have met last year's targets before those targets were raised.

"The new targets have become very challenging, especially for students with disabilities and English learners, and most schools across the state are expected to miss their AYP targets in these categories. The growth in this year's API scores and the achievement of almost all of the district's AYP targets did not happen automatically, LeBarron said.

"It was the result of our teachers, support staff and administrators working very hard to assess, evaluate and improve their instruction and our students' performance," he said. "Their work, combined with the support we receive from our parents and community, is the core of a school culture that is focused on meeting the academic needs of all of its students."

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