Most local schools post high API scores

Three MV Whisman schools fall short of target

Schools in Silicon Valley earned consistently higher marks on standardized tests than other schools throughout California, and a majority of Mountain View schools scored above the statewide target, according to a report released by the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

The Los Altos School District, which pulls roughly 25 percent of its student body from Mountain View, had the highest base API of any elementary school district in the state: 965 -- well above the state target of 800.

The report, released May 5, showed base Academic Performance Index (API) scores for every school in the county and ranked schools into "decile" groupings -- a 10-point scale, where one is the lowest score and 10 the highest.

Three schools in the Mountain View Whisman School District came up short of the state target. Theuerkauf and Castro elementary schools, along with Crittenden Middle School, tallied Base Academic Performance Index scores of 796, 793 and 765 respectively.

Despite three of his schools not making the 800 mark, Superintendent Craig Goldman said he was pleased with his district's overall performance.

"Our elementary schools, on the whole, did very well," he said, noting that all district elementary schools grew from their base API last year and that both Theuerkauf and Castro were "on the cusp of what is considered to be excellent by state standards."

A given school's API is determined by how well its students perform on standardized tests, such as the Standardized Testing and Reporting test (STAR) and the California High School Exit Exam. API is measured twice a year -- "base" API is recorded in the spring and then compared to "growth" API in the late summer. Decile scores are determined by comparing all the schools' API scores to each other.

Crittenden and Graham, the district's two middle schools, both saw drops in base API, which Goldman said was disappointing. "We're not just looking at that, we're in the process of doing something about that, " he said.

Local high schools did well, with both Mountain View High School and Los Altos High School breaking the 800 mark -- with scores of 861 and 857 respectively.

Those scores pleased Barry Groves, superintendent of the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District. Both schools were in the top decile with a score of 10.

"It's always great that our schools are ranked in the top 10 percent," Groves said. "It's a testament to our teachers."

For a full list of base API scores for Santa Clara County schools and districts, go to the county's Office of Education website, and click on the "County Schools Shine in API" link in the "News and Facts" column.


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Posted by Duke
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Why did Castro elementary schools come up short of the state target?

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Posted by Ann
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Yes, I too would like to know why Castro was below 800 when the other elementary schools are at 965. My guess is the District will say Castro has improved but that is not good enough. Its been the lowest performing school in Mtn. View for decades, isn't the time for excuses over?

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Posted by MVWSD Watchdog
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Yes, but the white kids at Castro land API scores of 987! while the Hispanics and English language learners averaged 715 and 717 respectively. Of course this doesn't reflect that most all of the white kids are in the Dual Immersion Program learning Spanish. The District put the program at this school only to raise the overall API and to keep it out of NCLB Program Improvement status that would have made it a failing school. In sum, this school serves many wicked purposes. It keeps the district out of trouble and it provides the liberal white parents all the diversity they've dreamed of in the Immersion Program which is effectively a segregated program! Well, ok, maybe not during recess, when the students self-segregate into ethnic groups all by themselves. Too bad the district doesn't want any more Title I funds. Those Hispanic and English learner students might benefit from it. Oh, that's right, we got the Shoreline and Google money, but I'm sure plenty of that money will be going to support the students with scores of 987!

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Posted by @ Watchdog
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Well, I guess I can say SOME of your comment is correct. The part about the natural English speakers getting a higher API.

But, NO the district did not put DI at Castro "only to raise...API".
Castro is the biggest elementary school in Mtn. View, as it was originally built as a middle school.
Also, the neighborhood children often do not to Castro, because the parents are scared of the API. So, they transfer to other schools.

And, NO the DI program is not a segregated program. As I understand it, the program is made up of approx. 1/2 English speakers and 1/2 Spanish speakers.

And, NO the Shoreline & Google money will not be spent on the students with scores of 987.
Unfortunately, the Shoreline money will completely go to cover the additional loss from the State this year. Hopefully, it covers most of the loss - it won't cover the entire loss.

The Google money:
"The grant is aimed specifically at those students in the district who need the most help in their math classrooms, according to Goldman and Heather Spain, manager of community affairs at Google." (quoted directly from the VOICE article)

But, thanks for positivity and concern for the students.

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Posted by mvmom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm

The Mountain View Whisman School District had an overall API in 2010 of 826. In the article it refers to Los Altos District that had an overall API of 965.

Mtn View School APIs from 2010 were:
Bubb 904
Landels 836
Huff 929
Castro 793
Monta Loma 820
Stevenson 899
Theuerkauf 791

Crittendon - 765
Graham - 814

Data source - Web Link
At that website or you can also see the API data disaggregated by sub-groups of students (by race, by socio-economic status, etc.).

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

It is truly, truly sad that Mr. Goldman wishes to reject $490,000 in funding for the most needy students in the schools in MVWSD which struggle the most, such as Castro and Theurkauf. This does a great disservice to the predominantly Latino community whose children attend these schools. Nowhere does Mr. Goldman say that he will somehow make up for these missing funds and direct them to these schools. Instead, each Title I school will be deprived of nearly $100,000 JUST for the coming school year! Already these children lack classroom aides, enrichment programs, and the increased time and attention from qualified adults that would be required to increase test scores. Mr. Goldman's excuse is that taking 1/2 million dollars in funding from the government somehow makes the schools "segregated". I have news for all of you, they were segregated 8 years ago when my son started kindergarten and they still are today, it has much more to do with socioeconomics and apartment vs. single family housing than increased funds for education!!
Parents from the Title I schools, which include ALL MVWSD elementaries except Huff and Bubb, should make their voices heard. The district should NOT deprive those kids of that much-needed money. The fact that the test scores aren't what they should be is NOT their fault, but that of the adults entrusted with the entire system, who are failing the kids. Lack of funds can only make things worse.
Please consider attending the MVWSD Superintendent's Town Hall Meetings Mon. 5/23 6:30-7:30 and Wed. 5/25 9-10 am in the Board room at the School board offices 750-A San Pierre Way to let Mr. Goldman know if you object to his flushing $500,000 of the kids' educational funds down the toilet. You can also go to the district website and email the Trustees. Robbing from the poor is just that, and these children lack a voice and a vote, responsible adults need to speak up for them.

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Posted by District Dad
a resident of Willowgate
on May 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm

More shell games. This move is designed more to protect the status quo that fears a state take over if the schools do no make the bench marks as required. Maybe a change in the status quo is needed, although to be fair, Mr. Goldman, should remain since he inherited this mess. Rather than give up the funds, the rest of the so-called leadership (asst. supes and many of the principals) that followed Ghysels down this hole should be let go. That's what any other organization would do.

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Posted by Frustrated Teacher
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 19, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I would like for those community members and families who talk about the short comings of the Castro's and Theurkauf's of the world to attend a district meeting where benchmark data is presented. In looking at the growth of low SES students, Castro, Theurkauf, and Landels show an average 20% increase in the lowest performing students. Some schools show a 3% gain.

CST scores are only one measure of academic success (the one that gets the most attention and is easily measurable). How much a student learns from a teacher over the course of a year is another measure. (I think this is a more accurate reflection of "good teaching")

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I would love to hear how "Frustrated Teacher" feels about her school being shortchanged $100 K next year!!

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Posted by frustrated teacher
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm

to local mom,

I find it completely appalling!!!! I think it says more about the community and society we foster with these high stakes testing. Higher test scores don't ALWAYS mean better schools. The district should work with all of those "white" families who left Monta Lona and Theurkauf and educate them on the meaning of those test scores and what their switching schools means.

Given the quality and commitment of the typical MVWSD teachers I think that all the schools have "good effective" teachers. We should not pit our local schools against each other and rank them. it does not serve the general welfare of the public.

I would like to see a systematic plan for reintegrating those schools who have lost their non ELL and low SES families. Otherwise, we are denying valuable funds to ALL MVWSD title 1 schools who need the money AND Monta Loma, Theurkauf, and Castro schools are still segregated. It will be interesting to see how many of the "white" families decided to return to Theurkauf and Monta Loma.

*I know that not ALL the families who left are "white."

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Posted by frustrated teacher
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 19, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Also, we should be careful when using gender specific pronouns. There are a few male teachers in the district.

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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Thank you FT for expressing your views, committed and caring teachers are critical to the success of students everywhere!!

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 20, 2011 at 6:37 am

"CST scores are only one measure of academic success (the one that gets the most attention and is easily measurable). How much a student learns from a teacher over the course of a year is another measure. (I think this is a more accurate reflection of "good teaching")"

Standardized tests and one's ability to master them, coupled with a GPA based on letter grades, are the most important measurements for getting the college or university and major of a student's choice. In reality, GPA's become watered by such thinking and comments from teachers above. That why there is heavy emphasis on standardized test. At the end of the day, students need to have mastered basic competencies to succeed. What you "think" is a more accurate reflection of "good teaching" might very well be the reason why so many kids can't even graduate from high school.

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Posted by stuckInTheMiddle
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

I agree with FT that standardized tests do not tell the whole story. However, until someone comes up with a metric to quantify "How much a student learns from a teacher over the course of a year," standardized tests are our best measure. These tests are a bellwether for future academic performance in general terms. They do not predict the future success of individual students, nor the competency of individual teachers, but rather provide an aggregate measure of how well schools are doing in preparing kids for further education. We should not expect that ELL students score the same on these tests as non-ELL, but we should expect that gap to narrow the longer such students are in our schools... if they don't, something is wrong. Thus, the goals for each school consider demographics such as ELL and Socioeconomics. Finally, schools are compared against one-another with consideration of demographics. To me, this is one of the most important measures... I expect LASD schools to be near the top of the state, but how are they doing compared to similar schools with no demographic challenges? Standardized tests tell a lot about the performance of our schools, but one needs to understand the tests to properly interpret the data. We will ignore them at our peril.

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Posted by MVWSD Watchdog
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 20, 2011 at 9:30 am

You lost me. You appear to contradict yourself. Regardless, here's a link to understand what API scores mean and tell us.

Web Link

API scores do compare schools such as those in Los Altos with other schools of similar demographic challenges! Los Altos still comes out ahead, actually at the top, but Mountain View schools do not. There are many schools similar to Mountain View schools that do much better in spite of having the same challenges. So let's start to look somewhere else for answers.

For example, when I compare Mountain View salaries to Los Altos and Palo Alto and Menlo Park, I find a very significant difference in salaries as well. We can't attract the best and brightest when we pay among the lowest. Mountain View also does not pay extra for MA/MS/PHD degrees or national board certification as do the all the other high performing districts---expect, typically, if you are an administrator. This is backwards. It should be the other way around. You attract quality and accomplished teachers by doing just that, by attracting quality and accomplished teachers. I'm not saying teachers in Mountain View are not quality or accomplished, only, let's be honest, there are many levels of such terms. The sky's the limit. It's all about what the market demands to paraphrase the last superintendent who only applied such logic to his and his girlfriend's salary!

Castro (scale of 1-10) 2010 Statewide Rank: 5 Similar Schools Rank: 4

Monta Loma (scale of 1-10) 2010 Statewide Rank: 6 Similar Schools Rank: 8

2010 Similar Schools Rank

This item is for school reports only. In addition to statewide ranks, schools are ranked compared to 100 other schools with similar demographic characteristics. For the similar schools rank, schools are ranked into deciles according to school type: elementary, middle, and high. To determine the similar schools rank for a school, a comparison group of 100 similar schools of the same type is formed for that school, based on similar demographic characteristics. The APIs for this group of 100 schools are ranked into ten categories of equal size, called deciles, from one (lowest) to ten (highest). Each decile contains 10 percent of all of the 100 similar schools in the comparison group. The school's similar schools rank is the decile where that school's Base API falls compared with the Base APIs of the 100 other similar schools in the comparison group. Special education schools, schools in the ASAM, and small schools with between 11 to 99 valid STAR Program scores do not receive similar schools ranks.
The PSAA specifies the demographic characteristics to include in similar schools rank calculations:

Pupil mobility
Pupil ethnicity (eight variables)
Pupil socioeconomic status (two variables)
Percentage of teachers who are fully credentialed (not available for the 2010 similar schools ranks)
Percentage of teachers who hold emergency credentials (not available for the 2010 similar schools ranks)
Percentage of pupils who are English learners (ELs)
Average class size per grade level (not available for the 2010 similar schools ranks)
Whether the school operates a multitrack year-round educational program
Percentage of grade span enrollments (grades two, three to five, six, seven to eight, and nine to eleven)
Percentage of students in gifted and talented education program
Percentage of students with disabilities (SWDs)
Percentage of reclassified fluent-English-proficient (RFEP) students
Percentage of migrant education students

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Posted by stuckInTheMiddle
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 20, 2011 at 9:39 pm


Not contradicting myself, nor disagreeing with you... I think you misunderstood my post. I was not claiming that LASD underperformed MVWSD on the similar school ranking... just that you needed to look at the similar school ranking in addition to the API score to get a feel for how well your school is doing with the hand they're dealt. My main point was (mostly) in agreement with you in that the standardized tests are the best metric we have at this point.

On another note, I've often wondered what heuristics they employ to determine "similar schools"... your link identifies 13 characteristics (many with multiple possibilities or broad scales, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and any of the 'percentage of ...' characteristics). To find 100 schools with "similar" demographics obviously requires a fairly broad definition of "similar". The combinatorics of that many variables necessarily results in comparing schools that may only be similar in a few characteristics. I'd really like to see on the Cal ed site a way to see which schools are classified as similar.

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Posted by Reva
a resident of The Crossings
on May 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Test scores are down. Its the pacts fault.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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