|California released the latest Academic Performance Index scores last week, showing that most schools in both of Mountain View's districts improved their scores.
In fact, both districts raised their API scores overall, although local students with disabilities, low-income students, Latinos and English language learners are still falling behind. As a result of this, seven out of the 11 schools still are not meeting state goals.
The Academic Performance Index uses California Standards Test (CST) scores to rank schools on an annual basis and gauge the performance and growth of districts, schools and student subgroups on a scale ranging from 200 to 1,000 points. The state target is currently set at 800, and only four local schools reached that number.
The scores serve as one component used to establish Academic Yearly Progress, or AYP, which ranks students as "basic," "proficient" or "advanced" and helps educators determine whether students are meeting standards under federal No Child Left Behind legislation. This year, benchmarks under the legislation increased steeply -- by around 11 percent for both math and English.
The Mountain View-Los Altos School District improved its overall API score by eight points to 820. Individually, Alta Vista and Mountain View high schools improved their scores, while the API at Los Altos High School dipped slightly.
The high school district also saw improved results for underrepresented students. The district celebrated a gain of 17 points for low-income students, 18 points for Latino students and 14 points for English language learners. While low-income and Latino students at Mountain View High met API growth targets, they did not at Los Altos High.
Even with these improved scores, however, administrators say this is the first year the district did not meet all of the federal AYP standards for low-income students. A subgroup may not be numerically significant for a school, but can still be large enough to count as "significant" for the district.
"If next year we have the same pattern, we will be concerned," said Associate Superintendent Brigitte Sarraff of some falling scores. "Many of the subgroups did go up, but not by leaps and bounds."
Administrators say test scores depend each year on the student body and general morale, and can change from year to year, which helps to explain why Los Altos High dropped seven points, falling to 795 -- just five points below the goal of 800.
The growing population of special education students, who tend to struggle more with these types of tests, also brought the school's overall score down a little, administrators say. Every other subgroup at Los Altos, with the exception of Asians who already score in the high 800s, improved their API scores.
Special education students dropped 21 points at Mountain View High, and 25 points at Los Altos High.
"I think we have a group of students who do not test well," Principal Wynne Satterwhite said of disabled students. "That is their difficulty."
Overall, the Mountain View Whisman School District exceeded the API goal of 800 for the first time, improving its score by 21 points to 806. But Latino and low-income students and English language learners still are falling behind in language arts.
The district also met all AYP benchmarks in mathematics, and administrators credit this to a math overhaul. They say improvement is still needed in language arts, where certain subgroups did not meet AYP targets.
Last year, Latino students in the local district fell behind other Latinos in both the county and the state in math, according to these AYP benchmarks. Administrators are now celebrating an increase in scores among this subgroup, putting them above other Latino students in the county.
Overall in the district, only one subgroup lost ground: African Americans, who dropped from 733 to 731 points. Low-income students made a leap of 28 points, and now have an API score of 703.
The eight schools in the district also had mixed results. Monta Loma, Bubb and Castro all lost ground in the API results, while Huff, Landels, Theuerkauf, Graham and Crittenden all gained more than 20 points.
Theuerkauf made the biggest jump, increasing its API score by 47 points. Administrators believe the gain is due to a new English language program there.
"Last year, they were really solid with the program," said Mary Lairon, assistant superintendent.
API SCORES BY SCHOOL:
Mountain View: up 21 points to 854
Los Altos: down 7 points to 795
Alta Vista: up 192 points to 700
Graham: up 33 points to 815
Crittenden: up 23 points to 757
Monta Loma: down 13 points to 780
Bubb: down 1 point to 865
Theuerkauf: up 47 points to 760
Huff: up 30 points to 936
Castro: down 8 points to 783
Landels: up 21 to 794
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