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How high can our school test scores go?

State API index shows 13-point increase

Statewide figures released last month show that from 2008-09, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District showed a gain of 13 points on its Academic Performance Index (API) Report.

School Superintendent Steven Enoch said he was excited to get the news from the state regarding the district's performance last year.

"Honestly, it's just very impressive," he said. "To have a district achieving at the level we already were to be making the gains we keep making is very encouraging."

SRVUSD went from a score of 901 in 2008 to 914 in 2009, according to the API report. In California, schools are required to reach a minimum level of 800 on the performance index.

API scores are derived from student performance on statewide academic testing. Each year, schools prepare students for the annual Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test. The STAR test measures students' knowledge of language arts, math, science and social studies. It is designed to provide a standardized level of learning for all public schools in the state.

Enoch said that he is excited to see the API number continue to climb and he attributes that to several factors.

"You do pay attention to what is assessed. We focus a lot of our time and energy around the standards," he stated. "The standards in California are considered to be fairly rigorous."

Enoch said focusing on those standards is a good thing as he feels they are foundational skills that are the cornerstone of building academic excellence.

He added that students in a district like SRVUSD have some advantage because their parents are highly educated and value their children receiving a sound education.

At a recent Board of Education meeting where the API scores were discussed, Board Member Greg Marvel pointed out that SRVUSD stands at or near the top in a number of areas.

"Besides being sixth overall in the state, we're No. 1 among English learners in the state," Marvel stated. "We're fourth overall in Asian scores in the state. No. 1 in Northern California, tied with one other district."

Figures released in the API report show that the district was first in the Bay Area for African American groups and second in Northern California. In special education, Marvel said SRVUSD was second in the state.

"We're doing a phenomenal job among those groups identified as being a part of the achievement gap," he said.

Enoch said the scores are good and he is pleased to see continued improvement, but they will not stop seeking to better their scores.

"The way you continue to make improvement in API, especially at the level we are at, is not by stretching the top kids," he said. "It's by finding those kids who are below the bar and helping them to get over."

Comments

Posted by Sickened Mom, a resident of Danville
on Oct 7, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Mr. Enoch's comments, and the constant focus of the school district on the kids that are below the bar makes me sick! Mr. Enoch's comments make it quite obvious that the constant evaluation of the test scores had made them focus on stretching only those kids that are below the bar. That is hugely unfair to those that aren't. Shouldn't other kids be stretched as well? Shouldn't there be just as much effort made to strectch the kids at the top as the kids at the bottom? Don't they deserve to be challenged as well?

I don't think we should be congratulating ourselves for producing an entire community of average kids. Don't we expect to produce some above average kids as well? We should! The best school districts do.


Posted by Mark, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 7, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Mom, this district does the best job in Northern California. I don't know if your kid takes AP classes, but you can't get more challenged if you are a very gifted kid than you can be with AP classes. From personal experience, the multiple AP achievement is rewarding for us kids at the top as well. I doubt being challenged is hardly the problem no matter what the test scores of our students. If you don't think they're being challeneged enough, Feel free to take your students elsewhere and try to find a district that does a better job. No disrespect but this district is by far one of the best anywhere.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Danville
on Oct 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm

That's great for you, but they don't have AP classes in elementary school. They used to have challenge packets for the kids that had already mastered the basics, but they are hard to come by now that the district changed its focus. Even if you request them, most teachers don't have them.

And not everyone has the money to take their kids elsewhere. I don't think that's an acceptable answer to any kids in public school whose needs aren't being met.


Posted by Another mom, a resident of Danville
on Oct 8, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Is this article a joke?

"Standards in California are considered to be fairly rigorous", are you kidding? SRVUSD may be one of the better school districts in CA, but that is not saying much compared to the rest of our country.

The only thing I agree with is the comment "SRVUSD has some advantage because their parents are highly educated and value their children receiving a sound education". Meaning, parents will make up for the school system by supplementing their child's education. If the API scores increased, thank the parents for getting their children tutors.


Posted by Freckle, a resident of Danville
on Oct 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

Wow, Test scores!!!! You all are crazy. The childhood depression rates and the teens suicide rates are higher than they have ever been in the U.S. AP classes in elementary school???? What about childhood? Do you know that the SAT's have not proven to predict success in college anymore? We have more college dropouts than ever????

People get you heads out of your bottoms, kids need to be kids. They have their whole entire lives to be challenged and tested. Check out the website for the new documentary called Race To Nowhere. It is an eye opener.


Posted by Marie, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 9, 2009 at 8:30 am

Enjoy it while it lasts. With the new homework policy of minimizing the amount of homework that teachers may assign, in a few years, you may see a directional change in the scores.


Posted by Another mom, a resident of Danville
on Oct 9, 2009 at 8:53 am

I agree Freckle.


Posted by danville mom, a resident of Danville
on Oct 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

not to mention, when class sizes reduction disappears, those high STAR scores in 2nd and 3rd grade will slip as well


Posted by Reader, a resident of Walnut Creek
on Oct 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Marie

In which direction? Sometimes I think excessive homework hinders the understanding of the curriculum. Students focus and stress about getting their work done instead of understand the information.


Posted by Skuls R Gud, a resident of Danville
on Oct 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

You can only get scores this high by producing a community of above average kids, which is thankfully what this district is doing.

Mr. Enoch's comments mainly show a willingness to play the game by the rules we the people have given him, they also thankfully show that he has a better grasp of statistics than his detractors.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Danville
on Oct 12, 2009 at 11:58 pm

I have a very good grasp of statistics, thank you. I just don't believe that our district's primary goal should be directed at such a small percentage of the students, regardless of the statistics involved. I believe the district has a responsibility to the kids over the test scores.

We aren't talking about stressing kids out here, or even AP classes. We are just talking about keeping them interested! When the kids finish their math homework in class every day and get 100% on their spelling pre-test every week, maybe it's time to provide them with something a little harder. Is that too much to ask?

And actually, Skuls, you only get test scores that high by having expectations that are too low, and way behind the rest of the country, as Another Mom said.


Posted by another mom, a resident of Walnut Creek
on Oct 22, 2009 at 9:37 pm

I also saw the documentary "Race to Nowhere: the Current State of Affairs in American Education." I was deeply moved. I highly recommend it to any parent, teacher or administrator. There will be a screening at the JCC in Walnut Creek on November 19th at 7:00 pm. I am going again, and I am bringing a crew of parents and teachers with me. I hope to see you there!


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