District, State Show Growth in API Scores

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 11, 2008 - 09:44:00 AM

At least 11 schools in the Berkeley Unified School District met their Academic Performance Index targets for 2008 according to the state’s 2007-08 Accountability Progress Report (APR) released by State Superintendent Jack O’Connell last week. 

The APR provides results from California’s Academic Performance Index (API) as well as the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Program Improvement (PI). Both the API and AYP are based upon the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program and the California High School Exit Exam. 

According to data posted on the state Department of Education website, four other Berkeley public schools saw their API scores rise but did not meet the target. 

State data show that Berkeley Unified received an API score of 760, up 14 points from its 2007 Base API score of 746, showing that the district was progressing toward the target of 800. 

The Base API is calculated using the results from spring 2007 testing. The API is a numeric index which ranges from 200 to 1,000 with a statewide target of 800. 

“The new district writing program had an effect on the API, and the new science program made a difference as well,” said Berkeley schools Superintendent Bill Huyett. 

Cragmont (API 842), Washington (API 783) and Rosa Parks (API 759) elementary schools made gains in their API scores. 

“If you consider that the API went down five points the previous year (2006-07), the gain of 45 points last year (2007-08) constitutes a 50-point turnaround, and every subgroup went up significantly,” said Don Vu, principal at Cragmont during 2007-08, who is now with the Berryessa school district. “I think that we did a much better job monitoring students who were struggling. We also made intervention classes after school smaller—five to seven students per teacher. More than half of the teachers worked in the after-school classes because the class sizes were so small and, in many cases, they were able to work with their own students.” 

Willard (API 745) and Longfellow Arts and Technology (API 783) middle schools saw a gain of 24 and 39 points, respectively, in 2007-08 compared to the five-point growth target required of them by the state. 

Martin Luther King Middle School (API 780) gained two points in the same time frame and fell below its five-point growth target. 

According to information on the state Department of Education website, Berkeley High School did not get an API score since it failed to test a significant proportion of students who were not exempt from testing in 2008 for at least one 2008 STAR content area. 

About 53 percent of the state’s schools made their API growth targets based on 2008 data, an increase of 8 percentage points from 2007. As a result, 36 percent of California schools are at or above the target of 800, up 5 percentage points from the year before. 

“I am particularly pleased that this year's API results show some narrowing of the achievement gap between students who are white or Asian and their peers who are African American, Hispanic, or learning the English language,” O’Connell said. “Because the API gives schools more credit for improvement made by the lowest-achieving students, it encourages educators to focus on improving the achievement of students who struggle the most.” 

African American students state-wide increased their API this year by 14 points and Hispanic students increased by 17 points, while white students increased by 10 points and English-learner students increased by 14 points. 

O’Connell told reporters during a teleconference Thursday morning that although the results showed a positive trend in overall performance, the state still faced a hurdle in closing the achievement gap. 


AYP results 

Results show that 52 percent of schools made AYP in 2008, a 15-percentage point decrease from 2007. 

The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires that the state determine whether each public school and LEA (a school district or county office of education) is making AYP. 

Berkeley Unified did not meet AYP criteria for 2008 since it failed to have enough members in some of its student subgroups who were considered proficient in English-language arts or mathematics. 

Robert Bernstein from the California Department of Education said the Berkeley district had failed five different subgroups in English and two in math. 

“Overall, the proficiency level is great but there’s a huge difference between white students and their African American counterparts,” he said. 

The AYP target for the percentage of students expected to score proficient or above on state assessments increased nearly 11 percentage points from 2007 and will continue to rise each year to meet the federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2007 the state standard for performance was 24 percent, which increased to 35 percent this year. In 2009 it will be 45 percent. 

State educators said that fewer schools and LEAs made AYP in 2008 because of the increase in targets. The percent of LEAs making AYP decreased from 54 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2008. 

Under No Child Left Behind, each state defines what it considers to be proficient levels in English-language arts and math, and California—state Department of Education officials said—is known for having some of the most rigorous standards in the nation. 

Huyett said the district’s overall AYP score had gone up but added that the increase in the state’s proficiency levels was a big problem. 

“Originally we were in for participation but this year we are in for performance,” he said. “The state standard for performance went up dramatically and it will continue to rise steadily each year until 2014, when all students will be required to score at the proficient level in English and math.” 

Berkeley Unified School District is in its third year of Program Improvement status. 

According to the state Department of Education, schools, school districts, and county offices of education that receive federal Title I funds and do not make AYP criteria for two consecutive years are identified for PI. Schools in PI are subject to a five-year timeline of intervention activities. 

Huyett said the district would be reviewing its curriculum and submitting a performance improvement plan to the state. 

“We have already adopted a new math program and are well on our way to develop a language arts program which we hope will make a difference,” he said. 


To view individual school’s API and AYP scores visit: www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/index. asp.