California's new Academic Performance Index is the cornerstone of Gov. Gray Davis' push to hold schools accountable for student performance.
The API index includes both a numerical score for each school and a ranking of 1 to 10 to show how the school compares with other schools statewide and with those that are similar.
In this first year, the API summarizes the performance of 7,000 schools statewide on the 1999 Stanford 9, a standardized basic-skills test, which was given last spring to about 4.3 million students in grades 2 through 11. The scores will be used to set improvement goals and to form a base for determining whether schools qualify for future rewards or sanctions.
Several years from now, APIs are also expected to encompass tests based on California's academic standards, a high school exit exam and attendance and graduation rates. For now, the only component in place is results on the Stanford 9.
Readers who want to know how a school in Orange County is faring can use this index as a gauge. Be aware that these are results for overall schools, not for individual grades or students.
Results for all schools and districts in California are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.cde.ca.gov/psaa.
How to read these tables:
* Find the school district. Districts are listed in alphabetical order. Capistrano Unified School District figures were not available.
* Search for the individual school. Schools within a district are listed in alphabetical order.
* For each school, the table first lists the 1999 API score, on a scale of 200 to 1,000. The statewide median is 630.
* Next comes a statewide ranking, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing the bottom 10% of schools and 10 the top 10%. All elementary schools are ranked together, as are middle schools and high schools.
* The third column is a second ranking from 1 to 10 comparing the school with a group of 100 schools that are similar in certain regards, such as poverty rate, the number of English-language learners, pupil mobility, pupil ethnicity and percentage of teachers with emergency credentials. A school could have a statewide ranking of 4, somewhat below average, but 8, well above average, among 100 similar schools.
* The next column lists the target score for the next API, due in late September. A school's growth target is calculated by taking 5% of the range between a school's 1999 API and the statewide performance target of 800. That number is then added to the 1999 API to compute the 2000 API target. For schools with a 1999 API of 781 to 799, the annual growth target is 1 point. Any school that maintains an API of 800 or higher is eligible for rewards. * Indicates that the school has already met the statewide target.
* The final column lists the percentage of teachers at the school who have emergency credentials. A high percentage of uncredentialed teachers tends to indicate a weaker, less experienced faculty.
How the API Was Computed
State officials took each school's Stanford 9 scores from last spring and used a seven-step formula to obtain a score between 200 and 1,000. The national percentile rank (NPR) for each student tested was used to make the calculation. The percentages of students scoring within each of five NPR performance levels (called performance bands) were weighted and combined to produce a summary result for each content area.
Summary results for content areas were then weighted and combined to produce a single number. Reflecting the state's emphasis on literacy, reading carried extra weight in the early grades.
In grades 2 through 8, content areas were weighted as follows: mathematics, 40%; reading, 30%; language, 15%; spelling, 15%. In grades 9 through 11, mathematics, reading, language, history-social science and science each carried a weight of 20%.
To satisfy the Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999, the API set a statewide performance target of 800 out of 1,000. The annual growth target for a school is 5% of the range between a school's API and 800. For example, a school with a 1999 API of 500 is 300 points below the statewide target; 5% of 300 is 15 points, so that school's goal for the 2000 API would be 515.
Of the state's 8,000 schools, 7,000 will be ranked in the API. Among schools not included were those with fewer than 100 students and alternative schools. Scores of students who had been in a district for less than a year were not counted. Scores for English learners who had been in the district for more than a year were included.
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1999 ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE INDEX