In late August, the California Department of Education revealed that the state’s Academic Performance Index scores, often pointed to as a benchmark for California schools, dropped slightly, but what are some of the outlier schools in San Mateo County?
Capuchino High School saw a 25 point rise, while Nesbit Elementary School also saw a rise of 20 points. Garfield Elementary School dropped 32 points, while Baden Continuation High School fell 91 points.
The reasons for the increases and decreases are varied, but the overall dip might be attributed to a disconnect between what’s been taught in the classrooms and the way the scores are ranked according to Standardized Testing and Reporting results which are being phased out this year.
“A number of factors indicate we use caution when interpreting these results including a significant rise in the achievement targets mandated by No Child Left Behind, a system that will soon be replaced,” Gary Waddell, deputy superintendent for the San Mateo County Office of Education, said in a press release. “This continuously rising target no longer effectively distinguishes between schools that are performing well and those that are not.”
The 2013 Growth API data reveals that of San Mateo County’s 166 schools, 109, or 66 percent, achieved a school-wide performance target API of at least 800, the highest number yet since the inception of the state’s accountability system in 2002. API is determined from statewide STAR results. Despite this achievement at the school level, however, API scores for the county’s districts and the state showed a slight dip from last year. The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000.
The Common Core curriculum shifts to team collaborative learning, with less time spent on lectures and more of an emphasis on students using technology in classrooms. New Smarter Balance testing, which aligns with these new standards, will go into effect during the 2014-15 school year. Since 1998, California school districts spent a significant amount of time preparing for STAR tests.
Overall, the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District saw a drop of six points, with scores ranging from 865 to 938. Nesbit Elementary School’s rose 20 points from last year from 845 to 865.
“They have a good amount of momentum as a staff,” Superintendent Michael Milliken said. “They’ve invested in teacher professional development and things are clicking. The staff there is ... bearing fruit.”
There were schools that saw gains and losses in the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, with scores ranging from 743 to 950. Albion H. Horrall Elementary School rose 38 points and Meadow Heights fell 48 points from last year. Meadow Heights Elementary School saw a drop of 48 points from last year.
“A school’s API can grow or decline during one year based on a number of factors,” said Mary Kay Going, assistant superintendent of education services. “When looking at growth of a school that shows significant growth or decline we look at the three to five years prior to see if overall steady growth has occurred.”
In the San Mateo Union High School District, scores bumped up six points overall, with Capuchino High School ticking up 25 points from last year’s 766 to 791 this year.
Capuchino has done a lot of things with ninth and 10th grade teaming, said Andy Parsons, associate superintendent of instruction.
“There’s a lot of collaboration at Capuchino,” he said. “There’s high expectations for kids since they’re an International Baccalaureate school. They expect all students to participate in the rigor.”
With San Bruno Park School District’s scores dropping 17 points and its El Crystal Elementary School’s scores ticking down 32 points, Superintendent David Hutt said there are a variety of possibilities for the downturn. The Common Core standards shift is not a contributing factor, he said.
“We work on the notion that we’re educating students for something more than just one test,” Hutt said. “At the end of the day we don’t know if any of those possibilities are a contributing factor. All the scores at second and third grade levels in San Mateo County dropped.”
In other districts, San Carlos Elementary School District saw a six-point drop in scores, with Heather Elementary School went down 36 points from last year’s scores. In the South San Francisco Unified School District, Sunshine Gardens Elementary School went down 40 points from last year, with Baden Continuation High School falling 91 points. The Sequoia Union High School District saw an overall rise of three points.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105