The 2005-06 Academic Performance Index (API) data was released Thursday, August 31st, for public schools across California and local school officials were pleased with the results.

Both the Santa Monica- Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) and Los Angeles Unified School District showed academic gains in the Academic Performance Index.

The index measures the academic performance and progress of public schools in California. The target for schools to reach is 800, but API scores can be anywhere from 200 (low) to 1000 (high).

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District reached a new high of 817. Last year, the district’s score was 806, still above the statewide “target” of 800.

“There is no doubt Santa Monica-Malibu’s growth of an additional 11 points on this year’s API is simply remarkable,” said Dianne Talarico, district superintendent.

“While our district scores are well above state and county levels, we continue to strive for improvement for all students at all levels and especially for those groups who, across our district, state and nation, have traditionally been deemed as underperforming.”

Santa Monica High School’s API went up this year from 742 to 767.

Nine Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District schools are over the target 800 mark, with four schools scoring over 900 on the API chart. Twelve of 14 schools’ API scores increased.

“These continuing gains are the direct result of the tremendous efforts of classroom teachers, support staff and administrators across the district,” said Tim Walker, deputy superintendent.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the API increased from 649 in 2004-2005 to 658 in 2005-2006.

Elementary and middle schools continued their seven-year trend of increased improvements, said Susan Cox, Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman.

The API score for elementary schools has jumped from 523 in 1999 to 731 in 2005-2006. Middle schools increased during the same seven-year period from 507 to 646 while high schools declined from 625 to 621.

“The reforms we’ve implemented in our elementary schools are translating into higher achievements as students matriculate to middle schools,” said Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Roy Romer.

“While student gains continue to move forward, there is still plenty of work to be done.

“Our priority and focus remains improving student achievement at all of our schools.”

Throughout the state, the 2005-2006 API data show an increase in the state’s average.

“The 2005-06 results show the state’s average API score has grown to 720, an 11-point gain from the 2004-05 school year, moving closer to the state goal of 800,” said Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of schools.

“The median score for all schools also increased, growing from 714 in 2003 to 745 in 2006.”

Still, statewide this year, only 52 percent of schools met their API growth targets, a decline from last year’s 68 percent, O’Connell said.