Agnes J. Johnson Elementary rocks STAR tests

The results of the California Standards Tests (CST), given last spring, are in. The two smallest schools in the district increased their scores. Agnes J. Johnson Elementary increased their score by 86 points making the school score for this year 868. At the same time, Casterlin Elementary increased its score by 21 points making the API 759.

Schools in California are given two ratings based on the CST results: Academic Performance Index (API: a number ranging from 200-1000) and an Average Yearly Progress (AYP: based on percentage of student taking the test and the percentage of students scoring Proficient or Advanced on the test). The API for a school is based on a growth model with a new target score being set each year by the California Department of Education. AYP, on the other hand, is a federal mandate for all students to be scoring Proficient or Advanced by 2014. A school not meeting the percentages set out by the federal government will go into "Program Improvement."

Redway Elementary remains in Program Improvement moving into year two of that program. Redway Elementary’s API is 794. This is down from 810 last year. The impressive part of Redway’s scores is that the overall number of students scoring Proficient or Advanced on the English Language Arts portion of the exam increased from 52.6% to 57.3%. This is below the federally required 67.6%. However, it is a significant increase and reflects the hard work of the staff and students. "The state set the goal for schools to have an API of over 800," Superintendent Scott reports, "Redway’s score has been hovering around 800 for the last two years. Most schools in California would be envious of a score that high. Redway can be proud of their students."

Whitethorn’s scores went from 791 to 773. "The current accountability system is particularly troublesome to small schools," stated Scott. "One large family moves, or even one student is sick during testing and the scores shift. For the very smallest schools who already have high scores, a decrease in scores is less indicative of the overall education, than of other factors, many of which are out of the school’s control."

South Fork High School’s scores decreased slightly with a four point drop from 749 to 745. At the high school level, results from the California High School Exit Exam, taken by all 10th graders, are considered in the calculations.

"Given that we are two years away from 2014 where all students are to be Proficient or Advanced, and considering how many schools and districts in the state are in Program Improvement, it is impressive that only one school in the district has Program Improvement status. The other thing to remember is that California has signed on to the Common Core State Standards which means that the assessment and accountability systems will both be changing significantly in the next few years. There are many forces at work right now. We need to stay focused on the growth our students are making," superintendent Scott stated.