San Ramon Valley schools once again showed improvement in the academic performance index, according to data released Thursday by the California Department of Education. The 2012 API report showed SRVUSD schools averaging well above the state target of 800.
"It is amazing that a high achieving district like ours can continue to improve," said Superintendent Mary Shelton.
The overall 2012 API growth score for the district was 927, up five points from last year and marking a two-year growth of 11 points. The results continue to place SRVUSD as the eighth highest unified school district in the state and the highest among unified districts with more than 9,000 students tested.
API scores are primarily based on standardized test results such as the STAR exam, which is given to students in second through eleventh grades. Every elementary school in the district scored higher than 900 on the measure and Twin Creeks, Montevideo and Walt Disney elementary schools showed the most growth at the elementary level with 23, 20 and 19 points respectively over the previous year.
Windemere Ranch Middle School increased by 13 points while Dougherty Valley High School showed an increase of 15 points. The district's comprehensive high schools are in the top 4 percent of all high schools statewide.
Scores for several specific subgroups in the district also improved. Results for the district's African American subgroup (with an API of 824) were up six points while students classified as English learners ranked first among all unified districts in the state with an API of 920.
"While I am pleased to see that many of our subgroups improved again, a few did not, and we will continue to make that a primary focus in our classrooms," Shelton said.
Statewide, 53 percent of all California schools are now at or above the overall statewide target API. Each year, schools receive two API reports, the API base (reported in March) and the API growth (reported in September).
Still, SRVUSD did not meet federal standards, also known as Adequate Yearly Progress report, for the No Child Left Behind Act. The AYP measures mandated improvements districts must reach before 2014, when 100 percent of students must score "proficient or above" on state standardized tests. This year, the bar was set at 78 percent proficiency.
Although over 85 percent of San Ramon Valley students scored proficient or above on both mathematics and language arts tests, district Community Relations Coordinator said when one subgroup doesn't meet the goal the whole district is labeled "program improvement."
"The bar is completely unrealistic and every district in the state has seen that coming....I'm very confident that every district in state will be there next year," he said.
African-American, socioeconomically disadvantaged and Hispanic student groups did not meet the 78 percent threshold in 2012, but Koehne said the AYP score is not an accurate measure of how well a school, district or subgroup is faring.
"Our Hispanic subgroup did not meet the federal guidelines, yet our Hispanic subgroup ranks sixth among all unified school districts in the state of California at 869 (API)," he said.
Koehne added that SRVUSD will continue to look at how to bring all students to a proficient or above level, but said that focusing on AYP scores help perpetuate the myth that public schools are failing, which, at least in the San Ramon Valley, they're not.