LA schools ‘making steady progress,’ Romer says

BY ANITA VARGHESE

Public schools in Santa Monica and Malibu are considered to be “excellent,” based on academic performance index (API) scores released by the California Department of Education Friday, March 11th.

Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District are “making steady progress,” said Roy Romer, Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent.

“We are especially proud of our students, teachers and administrators because many are still working in overcrowded schools while we continue to complete the building program to eliminate these handicaps,” Romer said.

The state determines that a public school is “excellent” if the school scores a base API of 800 points or higher.

“The majority of our schools fall into the excellent category,” said John Deasy, superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

“We are incredibly pleased with progress over time and with the point where we are at today,” Deasy said.

API scores are calculated by the state using figures from standardized test results that each public school student takes.

Standardized tests include the California Standards Test, California Achievement Test Sixth Edition and the California High School Exit Examination.

The state calculates three API scores: a base score, a state rank and a similar schools rank.

The state rank is a public school’s score compared to all other schools on a scale from one to ten, with ten being the best rank.

The similar schools rank, also from one to ten, compares a public school to another school similar in terms of ethnic breakdown, socioeconomic status, teacher qualifications, class size and calendar type.

“Approximately 80 percent of our schools scored an eight or above in the statewide ranking and that has been improving every year,” Deasy said.

“This is a tribute to the quality of teaching and leadership in the district, and also to parents and a community that provides fiscal support,” he said.

API CHARTS — In Santa Monica, two public schools were not required to and chose not to be ranked for API.

Those schools are the Santa Monica Alternative School House for kindergarten through eighth-grade students and Olympic High School for continuation students.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District Local District Three, which includes public schools in The Argonaut coverage area, Del Rey High School for continuation students was not on the API list.

Phoenix High School, also for continuation students, chose to submit the test scores of 17 students only for a base API ranking, which is 502.

Westside Leadership Magnet, a multilevel school for kindergarten through eighth-grade students, is ranked on the list for middle schools.

McBride, a multilevel special education center for students from pre-kindergarten to age 22, is ranked on the list for high schools.

“While we celebrate continued progress in our elementary schools, this district’s work must focus on our middle schools and high schools,” said JosÈ Huizar, president of the Los Angeles school district board of education.

“We need massive, systematic reform with targeted, aggressive intervention,” he said.

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