http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/10/02/how-high-can-our-school-test-scores-go


Danville Express

Newsfront - October 2, 2009

How high can our school test scores go?

State API index shows 13-point increase

by Geoff Gillette

Statewide figures released earlier this 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."

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