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What Is the API?

October 05, 2000

California's Academic Performance Index is the cornerstone of Gov. Gray Davis' push to hold schools accountable for student performance.

This is the public's second look at the index and the first to indicate whether schools are meeting improvement targets set by the state.

The first release of API information was in January, when the state issued an index score for each of about 7,000 schools, based on the Stanford 9.

At that time, the state set improvement goals for each school, using the 1999 index score as a base. The API information contained in today's tables indicates whether schools met those targets--for the school overall and for sizable subgroups within each school's population.

Schools must meet those targets to qualify for hundreds of millions of dollars of rewards that the state has set aside to encourage academic improvement.

In future years, the API is expected also to encompass tests based on California's academic standards as well as a high school exit exam and attendance and graduation rates. But for now the only component in place is results on the Stanford 9 for 1999 and 2000.

No information was available for about 600 schools. Their scores have not yet been computed because of faulty demographic data and other problems. The state is expecting to compute scores for most of those schools by December.

Last January, the state ranked the schools on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the top 10% of schools. The new rankings will be released in January, 2001.

Readers who want to know how a school in Los Angeles County is faring can use this index as a guide.

Results for all schools and districts in California are available on the World Wide Web at


How to Read These Tables

* Find the school district. Districts are listed in alphabetical order.

* Search for the individual school. Schools within a district are listed in alphabetical order by level, with elementary schools first.

* For each school, the table first lists the 2000 API score, on a scale of 200 to 1,000.

* Next comes the school's growth target. That is the number of points the index must have risen for the school to qualify for rewards. An asterisk indicates that no target was set because the API was 800 or higher in 1999. Those schools had to improve their score by only 1 point.

* The third column is the number of points that the school's score rose or declined. If the school met or exceeded its schoolwide target, that number is in boldface.

* The next column indicates with a Y for yes or an N for no whether the school met its growth targets for significant subgroups. Those include students from low-income families and students from various ethnic groups.

* Next comes the percentage of students tested. To qualify for rewards, elementary and middle schools must have tested 95% or more of eligible students. High schools must have tested at least 90% of eligible students.

* Finally, a Y or an N indicates whether a school qualifies for the state's reward program. If a school meets its overall growth target, but fails to hit its targets for subgroups or participation rate, it is not eligible for rewards.

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How the Data Were 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 for each student tested was used to make the calculation. The percentages of students scoring within each of five percentile rank performance levels (called performance bands) were weighted and combined to produce a summary level of each content area.

Summary results for content areas were weighted and combined to produce a single number. Reflecting the state's emphasis on literacy, language skills 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, officials have set a statewide API 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.

To qualify for rewards, the school must also show significant improvement in the scores of each sizable subgroup. For example, the scores of Latino students, if they represented a significant subgroup in 1999 and 2000, would have to rise by 80% of the growth target. The same would be true of economically disadvantaged students.

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