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Test Scores Carry Mixed Messages for Local Schools

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday September 04, 2007

It was a decidedly mixed message for Oakland and Berkeley schools in the heavily anticipated Academic Performance Index scores released by the California Department of Education at mid-day Friday, with BUSD schools dropping 5 points overall (752 to 747) from 2006 to 2007, and OUSD schools gaining 7 points (651 to 658). 

There were also mixed results from the two Oakland public charter schools established by California Attorney General Jerry Brown while he served as mayor of Oakland. 

Brown’s Oakland School for the Arts, currently awaiting its permanent home in the soon-to-be-refurbished Fox Theater, had the highest score (742) of any high school in Oakland, jumping 37 points from its 2006 score of 705. 

At the same time, Brown’s Oakland Military Institute dropped 39 API points from last year to this, 676 to 637. 

There was also a mixed message from the scores of East Oakland Community High School, which the OUSD state administrator disbanded at the end of the last school year. EOCH had the highest API gains of any Oakland high school at 60 points, but with a 513 API score, the now-defunct school tied with Paul Robeson College Prep for the second lowest score among high schools in the city. 

API scores, which range from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000, are the state’s method of judging academic performance in its schools. The scores are calculated from the state’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program and the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). All schools in the state are expected to eventually reach a base score of 800. 

In Berkeley, Malcolm X, Emerson, and Whittier had the highest API increases over the past year among elementary schools. Malcolm X rose 33 points (785 to 818), and Emerson (785 to 801) and Whittier (781 to 797) both rose 16 points. Washington, with a 37 point drop (757 to 720) and LeConte, with a 24 point drop (730 to 706), had the greatest API losses among Berkeley elementary schools. 

Jefferson and Oxford had the highest API scores among BUSD elementary schools overall at 834, while Leconte, at 706, had the lowest. 

All of BUSD’s middle schools increased their API scores from 2006 to 2007. Willard rose 52 points (669 to 721), Longfellow rose 25 (719 to 744), and King rose 7 (771 to 778). 

Berkeley Alternative lost 109 points, dropping from 537 to 428. API data were not available for Berkeley High School. 

In Oakland, Golden Gate (with an 87-point jump from 643 to 730) and Monarch Academy (85-point increase from 710 to 795) had the highest jumps among elementary schools, with four schools (Hillcrest at 961, Thornhill at 938, Montclair at 932, and Chabot at 905) all breaking the 900 barrier. 

Dolores Huerta Learning Academy (losing 81 points from 675 to 594) and Sobrante Park (losing 60 points from 731 to 671) had the largest drops among Oakland elementary schools, while Sankofa Academy (535) and Webster Academy (536) scored the lowest among Oakland elementaries overall. 

Among Oakland middle schools, Aspire/UCB (77 point rise from 648 to 725) and Madison (53 point rise from 551 to 604) had the highest API increases, while the American Indian Public Charter (950) and Oakland Charter Academy (896) had the highest API scores. 

Among Oakland high schools, Media College Preparatory had the second highest API gain (52 points, up from 498 to 550), while Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy (667) and Skyline (652) had the largest overall API scores next to Brown’s Oakland School For The Arts. 

Leadership Public Schools Oakland (down 85 points from 620 to 585) and Business and Information Technology High (down 41 from 526 to 485), had the largest losses among Oakland high schools. Business and Information Technology also had the lowest score (485) of any high school in Oakland. 

The Department of Education’s full API report on all California schools is available online at