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With the release of the 2013 Growth Academic Performance Index (API) results today by the California Department of Education (CDE), the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) and the state of California close the chapter on state standardized tests and API scores being based on the current state standards. Since the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) examinations were fully aligned to state standards in 2003, PUSD’s API score increased by over 100 points going from 648 in 2003 to 751 in 2013. The Academic Performance Index (API) measures the academic performance and growth of schools. The numeric index ranges from a low of 200 and to a high of 1000 with a statewide target of 800.
Like the STAR tests on which the API scores are based, performance among PUSD schools was mixed. Eight PUSD schools received a score at or above 800, the state’s performance target. San Rafael Elementary saw the biggest increase among PUSD schools with a 54 point jump to score an 834 and crossed over the 800 API score threshold. Sierra Madre Elementary was the top scoring school in the district with an API score of 905.
“The impact of the deep budget cuts of the last several years can be seen in the dip of scores at the district and state level, demonstrating that a 16% reduction in district revenues since 2008-2009 does have a lasting impact on the academic careers of students,” said PUSD Superintendent Jon R. Gundry. “In consideration of the district’s limited resources, we decided to focus on preparing students for the new Common Core Standards rather than take the ‘drill and kill’ instructional approach with these expiring standards.”
The education system in California will be entering a new era of standards and assessments starting this school year. The state and district are transitioning to the Common Core State Standards, a set of common standards that will be shared among 45 states that describe clearly and consistently what students are expected to learn in mathematics and English language arts from kindergarten to 12th grade. For teachers it means teaching beyond the test and the past focus on the acquisition of content. Students will be asked to focus more on the why rather than the who, what, when and where. The new Common Core Standards are being phased into PUSD instruction this year after a teacher-driven process of revising and rewriting the district curriculum. For more information of the transition to Common Core, please visit www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc.
As anticipated, CDE did not issue an API score to Norma Coombs Alternative School nor will it in 2014 due to a serious testing irregularity during the administration of the STAR tests last spring. In one classroom, students reported that they were encouraged to check their work during the test, a violation of test rules. When discovered, the district promptly reported the incident to CDE officials.
“While the API results are disappointing for some of our schools, I encourage everyone to understand that a school is more than its API score,” stated Gundry. “The innovative programs that the district offers to prepare students for college and career such as our Pathways program and our focus on 21st Century Learning can’t be quantified by the latest round of scores. I look forward to full implementation of SB 1458 which will take programs such as ours into consideration when formulating a schools API score.”
SB 1458 (Steinberg) changes the formula for an API score taking into consideration factors such as graduation rates and college and career readiness. The new formula will be in place by May 2015.
The California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) results for 2012-1013 were also released today. 77 percent of first time 10th grade test takers passed the mathematics portion of the exam and 79 percent passed the English language arts portion. Students who do not pass one or both parts of the CAHSEE in grade 10 have two opportunities in grade 11 and up to five opportunities in grade12 to pass the exam and do not have to retake the part of the exam that they already passed.
To see individual school API scores and background on the API and California’s other school accountability measures, please visit www.cde.ca.gov/getschoolreport.