API scores make Castro proud
Elementary school leaps forward after years of languishing in back of the class
The Mountain View Whisman Elementary School District saw mixed results from this year's academic progress report released last Friday, with Castro Elementary School and special education students leading the district's upward movement. Both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools met state targets and saw modest improvement.
The best news came from Castro, which officially left behind its "program improvement" status of the federal No Child Left Behind act, district officials said. The school made the strongest district-wide gains, leaping by 89 points, but still fell short of the state minimum score.
"I am proud and honored to be part of such a collaborative learning community at Castro, and I'm looking forward to a wonderful 2007-08 year," Principal Carmen Mizell said.
"We worked together as a team. Dual-immersion, English-only and Parent-Child Together teachers helped to improve the performance of our English language learners, low-income and Hispanic students," Mizell added.
Huff Elementary had the highest district-wide score of 902, with Bubb Elementary second at 863. These schools were the only two district-wide that met the state minimum score of 800, and one of four that met growth targets.
But there was still room for concern in the district. Theuerkauf Elementary dropped 31 points. And Landels Elementary exceeded state standards in last year's results, but fell 40 points this time round — the largest drop of any school in the district.
The school had an increase of 100 students (many from the recently closed Slater Elementary), hired new teachers, and had a new principal — all factors which may have caused performance to drop, Principal Phyllis Rodgers said.
"It was a lot of changes," Rodgers said. She expects the school will perform better this year.
"We're implementing some things like language boards and math boards which are actually ways of continuing to review and expose students to the standards," she said.
"I think they can move the school above 800 in one to two years," Associate Superintendent Mary Lairon said of Landels.
The academic performance index (API) is a numeric index ranging from 200 to 1,000 that reflects a school's performance level based on the results of statewide testing. The state target is a minimum score of 800 with an expectation that schools below the target grow 5 percent each year until reaching the target.
The elementary school district saw major gains for special education students, who collectively gained 62 points. Hispanics and English language learners saw gains of 11 points, which helped to close the achievement gap, but they still trailed whites and Asians by more than 200 points.
"I'm pleased, but we've got a long ways to go," Lairon said of the achievement gap. "We also want our high-achieving children to grow."
At the high schools, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and English language learners made gains of more than 20 points each. Hispanics collectively saw a 6-point gain, but still trailed whites and Asians by about 250 points.
"We're very pleased that we've shown overall improvement at both of our comprehensive high schools," said Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District. "We are especially happy with the growth of our various subgroup populations."
Statewide, the median API score grew from 745 last year to 751 in 2007, according to Jack O'Connell, the state superintendent.
By comparison, MV Whisman grew 5 points to a district-wide score of 783. The high schools had a median score of 812. The Los Altos Elementary School District had a district average score of 956.
E-mail Susan Hong at email@example.com