San Diego Schools Show Slight Improvement On Standardized Testing - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Schools Show Slight Improvement On Standardized Testing

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San Diego Unified schools made slight gains on the Academic Performance Index, which is calculated using students' scores on a series of standardized tests, according to figures released today.

The target API score set by the state Department of Education is 800.

The SDUSD's API score for 2008 was 749, up from 734 the previous year.

"This is a great performance for those individual schools, showing the excellence we have in San Diego Unified," SDUSD Superintendent Terry Grier said in a statement. "Other results, however, show that in some areas we have a long way to go."

The number of schools at or above the state median declined from 57 percent in 2002-03 to 46 percent last year, according to the SDUSD.

The API score, which shows how each school is performing academically in comparison to other schools, ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. The score is determined by results on the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program and the California High School Exit Exam.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said the 2008 API base report shows a continuing rise in scores, and he expressed concern that the state's budget difficulties could threaten that pattern of improvement.

"This kind of progress happens only through the hard work and focus of dedicated school staff, parents and students," O'Connell said. "However, I worry that these real gains in student achievement are in serious jeopardy because funding for our public school system is in serious danger. What kind of education will we be able to offer next year and the year after that with the
kind of drastic and unprecedented cuts now under consideration?"

The statewide base API was 741. For median base for elementary schools was 774, up from 763 in 2007. The median for middle schools was 739, up from 720 in 2007, and the median base for high schools was 702, up from the previous year's 689.

The percentage of statewide elementary schools scoring at or above the benchmark of 800 was 39.9 percent, while 30.1 percent of middle schools hit the target, and 17.1 percent of high schools met the mark.

Statewide, the base API was 814 for white students, 824 for Filipinos and 864 for Asians. The API was 659 for black students, 683 for Hispanics, 663 for English-learners and 681 for financially disadvantaged students.

The API base report also ranks schools academically on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest, to determine a school's standing compared to other schools statewide.

Because of the nature of the system, 10 percent of schools will always be in each decile. Where a school falls, according to score, has changed greatly over the years as schools improve their scores.

For example, an API score of 680 in 1999 -- when the API began -- would place an elementary school above the median and in statewide rank 7, according to the California Department of Education. That same score in 2008 would place a school in the bottom statewide rank 1.

In the SDUSD, 19 schools received the highest rank of 10, most of which were elementary schools. Only one high school, Preuss School at UC San Diego, achieved the high ranking.

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